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NOVEMBER 


THE DRUMS OF TAPAJOS 

By Capt. S. P. MEEK, U.S.A. 





The Accumulated Wisdom of 4000 Years of Experience by the 

FAMOUS HINDU ADEPTS 



November, 1930 


AMAZING STORIES 


673 





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R. R. S. Box 919, 
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President. 

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Washington, D. C. 


Lifetime EmploiwientkniicetoallQraduatesM 



Amazing Stories 

Scientific Fiction 

Vol. 5 November, 1930 No. 8 


I « Our N ext issue 


I« Our ■ November Issue 


THE ECLIPSE SPECIAL, by William Lcmkin, 
Ph.D. The time for the observation of a total 
eclipse of the sun is measured by seconds. And 
the seconds arc so supremely valuable that the 
scientists, who are busy with their apparatus, do 
not get a chance to sec it. What superb results 
might be obtained if some means were found to 
arrange matters so that hours, instead of seconds, 
could be spent in studying this greatest cosmic 
phenomenon that ever greets the earth. Dr. 
Lcmkin, himself a scientist, gives us some Unique 
ideas in this excellently written story, 

THE SECOND MISSILE, hv. Earl Repp. Strange 
and unexplainable matter has been projected to 
the earth— nobody knows exactly from where. 
Stories have been written about foreign missiles, 
but this talc stands alone in its unusual interest. 
This is one of the best stories we have seen by 
this author. 

THE BLACK HAND, by Charles Bowers Gardner. 
What wonders surgery of the future may develop 
must certainly be beyond the scope of human 
prophecy. Howcvepp it must betof supreme im- 
portance to consider the psychological effects of 
any amazing surgical possibility on the patient. 
One well-known physician and writer said of this 
story: "It tickles me pink." 

ANACHRONISM, by Charles Cloukcy. Numer- 
ous requests have come to us for a sequel to this 
authors “Paradox" stbrics. Here it is at last, be- 
yond even the expectations of the fans. Ycf th.o,se 
of our readers who have missed the two preceding 
stories will find in this a fascinating tale of scien- 
tific interest, for "Anachronism” is complete in 
itself. 


THE DRUMS OF TAPAJOS, by Capt. S. P. 
Meek, U. S. A. (A Serial in three parts) Part II. 
Those who have read the first instalment of this 
absorbing novel, need no urging to read further. 
Those of our readers who have missed the previ- 
ous issue should get it now. There's a treat in 
store for them. 


The Drums of Tapajos 

%■ Catl. S. P. Meek. U.S.A 678 

Illustrated by Paul 

The Globoid Terror 

By It. /•'. S tarsi 700 

Illustrated by Morey 

Solaritc 

By John If'. Campbell, Jr. 706 

Illustrated by Wcsso 


The Pineal Stimulator 

By l. M. Stephens and Fletcher Pratt 737 

Illustrated by Paul 


What Do You Know? 

( Science Questionnaire ) 743 

Missionaries from the Sky 

By Stantoti A. Coblents 744 

Illustrated by Paul 

The Cosmic Express 

By Jack IVilliamson 752 

Illustrated by Morey 

Discussions -. s 757 


Our Cover 


deal power, just befot 


•nni "The Globoid Terror 
'the end". ° W " W ' ' V ' 


by 


Other scientific fiction. 


Illustration by Morey 


Published monthly by Radio-Science Publications, Inc., at 184-10 Jamaica Ave„ Jamaica, N. Y. 
B. A. MACKINNON-H. K. FLY, Publishers T. O’CONOR SLOANE, Ph.D., Editor 

Price 25c a copy; subscription $3.00 a year in U. S. A., $3.50 a year 
in Cunutla, $4.00 in all foreign countries. 

Entered as second-class matter at Jamaica, N. Y., under act of March 3, 1879. Copyright, 1930, by the 
Experimenter Publications, Inc. The contents of this Magazine must not be reprinted without permission. 

We ennnot be responsible for lost manuscripts, although every care is taken for their safety. 

Editorial and Executive Offices, 381 Fourth Avenue, New York City. 


674 



November, 1930 


AMAZING STORIES 


675 



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676 


AMAZING STORIES 


November, 1930 



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Editorial and General Offices: 381 Fourth Avenue, New York, N. Y. 

Extravagant Fiction Today - ■ . ^ - . . . . Cold Fact Tomorrow 


Unbinding Matter 

By T. O’Conor Sloane, Ph.D. 


T HE original idea of the atom, or the "indivisible," 
corresponded pretty closely to our idea of the mole- 
cule. A hundred and fifty years ago the break was 
looming through the clouds, and with the work of 
Lavoisier and of Priestly modern chemistry came 
into being. The old-time atom of wood, of water and of all 
the other substances in nature disappeared and its place was 
taken by the molecule. The smallest particle of water, for 
instance, which could exist was now called a molecule of 
water, not an atom, as it was before. It was taken as made 
up of two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen. This is 
still the accepted theory. A step far in advance of the old 
theory, it is by the last advances in the theory of the consti- 
tution of matter modified by the discrete (not the discreet) 
theory of matter, and the atom is no longer taken to be an 
indivisible body, but is a compound of a greater or less number 
of electrons, positive and negative in equal number. The posi- 
tive electrons are called protons. The electrons are the “bricks,” 
as it were, the quanta of matter. 

The chemist of fifty years ago would be amazed if he could 
have foreseen the refinement in chemical work and laboratory 
practice that was coming to pass. In taking visitors through 
a laboratory, the delicacy of the balance was shown by cutting 
two hairs from different heads to an equal length and showing 
how the balance would show a difference in weight between 
them. But the modern chemist’s balance may be ten times 
as delicate as the old-time ones. So when the atom was inves- 
tigated and was found to consist of a considerable number of 
electrons and protons (in uranium there are hundreds of elec- 
trons), the modern atom became a very decidedly compound 
body, an accumulation of electrons. The chemist’s unit was 
refined again. 

Many of the atoms cannot under ordinary circumstances exist 
alone. Each one of these must be combined with a partner, as 
it were, with another atom either of its own kind or with 
another one. Thus united they form a molecule. Other mole- 
cules have only one atom. Very recently a way has been found 
of splitting a two atomic molecule into its atoms. If hydro- 
gen gas, which is a collection of molecules of this element, 
each molecule made up of two atoms, is passed through a 
voltaic arc, the intense heat splits it up, it is believed, into 
two atoms. The gas is said to be activated. The atoms are 
driven apart by the intense heat, but have an intense affinity 
for each other, and as they emerge from the arc, reunite, 


producing an extremely high temperature. This principle has 
already been used to give the metal-worker a most powerful 
blowpipe for welding steel and iron in the most perfect man- 
ner. It is in a sense the combustion of hydrogen by itself, 
instead of by oxygen. The last named combustion gives water; 
the new one gives back the molecular hydrogen. 

This wonderful achievement is almost incredible, although it 
is done on the smallest scale, giving a flame of the order of a 
candle flame. Now let us go from the laboratory, where this 
modern miracle originated, and try to find some place where 
it was done previously. To get the answer to the query this 
suggests, we could use the old refrain — “Read the answer in 
the stars"— for it is there we would find it. The temperature 
of the stars in many cases is so enormous that atoms cannot 
exist in them. The disintegration of the molecule is simple 
in comparison to the stripping of electrons from the atom, and 
this is supposed to take place in the white stars, at least. 

There are strange things in the stellar world. The cosmic 
rays, to which Millikan especially has given so much investi- 
gation, he believes are due to the building up of atoms of other 
elements from hydrogen. It is strange to think of the trans- 
mutation of elements going on in interstellar space, yet this is 
what the theory of the origin of the cosmic rays seems to 
lead to. But in the light of the activation of hydrogen in the 
electric arc, we cannot hesitate to believe that atoms exist 
in the white stars, whose temperature is beyond our conception, 
even if we do find it expressed in prosaic degrees centigrade. 

Analysis means unbinding; when a chemist analyzes a com- 
pound, he unbinds it, separating its constituents one from the 
other. This is done in the hydrogen blowpipe, spoken of above. 
It is done by the application of the heat of the electric arc and 
also by the heat of the stars. Now let us think of a gigantic 
analysis where it is no longer a question of dealing with a little 
jet of hydrogen, but where we have a world of matter in a 
white star, whose whiteness is due to its intense heat, far sur- 
passing that of the electric arc. Here we are told of the 
existence of atomic matter, where the molecules are not only 
analyzed into their constituent atoms, but even these are subject 
to a loss of their electrons, a step in decomposition, which is 
literally analysis, th* star figuring as an ana'-'tical chemist. 
Where the chemist on our earth works with a tew grains of 
the substance he is analyzing, the white star does its work on 
a truly cosmic scale. Its color tells its high temperature, as 
we speak of white-hot iron. 


677 



The D rums of 

/ UST because a region is totally inaccessible to the outside world, it does 
not necessarily follow that the inhabitants ( granted that the place is 
inhabited) are living in a totally savage state, absolutely devoid of the many 
conveniences and inventions of modern civilization. Tribes of progressive 
peoples have vanished — apparently from the face of the earth. What has 
happened to them ? Where have they gone? Any number of answers might 
not only be possible — but might actually be true. It is hardly likely that a 
progressive people, no matter where, would degenerate to a savage state. 

Capt. Meek, our well-known author, can always be depended on for an un- 
usual story, particularly when it is written for AMAZING STORIES as this one 
was. Do not fail to read the first instalment in this issue. 


Part I 

Illustrated 

by 

PAUL 


CHAPTER I 
We Send for Willis 

M ARISTON claimed that the drumming 
was a delusion, merely the effects of an 
over-wrought imagination, but then he was 
a skeptic and had to say that. I believe 
that he changed his mind at the last, al- 
though he never admitted it. Willis said that it was 
black magic and the work of devils, but he had a very 
limited scientific education, despite his wide-spread roam- 
ings over the globe. What Nankivell thought, we never 
learned, but doubtless he knows all about it now, if he 
is still alive, and could easily explain it if one could find 
him to ask. Personally I believe that it was a natural 
phenomenon based on the laws governing some form of 
radio transmission that we arc at present unacquainted 
with, but then 1 am only the Greek chorus that comes 
in at the end to explain matters and my personal 
opinions don’t count for much. At any rate I'll tell the 
story and you can be your own judge. Your guess is 
as good as anyone’s and the only way that the matter 
can be proved is by another trip up the Rio Tapajos and 
I wouldn’t be allowed to make it, even if I wanted to. 

I had a pretty comfortable little job in 1917 when 
the war broke out and I didn’t much like the idea of 
giving up my start and putting on olive-drab, but my 
father and grandfather had worn the uniform in 1861 
and 1898 so there wasn't much else for me to do. Be- 
sides, it was a case of volunteer or be drafted, so I 
took the bull by the horns and went to the first training 
camp and by virtue of sdrne National Guard experience 
during my college days, I drew a commission and went 
down to Texas to do my bit. I didn't get over and my 
whole war experience consisted of an endless round of 
drills and the petty duties that go to make up a subal- 
tern's job in the line. We did have a little fun down 
along the border for a while, but it didn’t last long. If 
the Hindcnburg line hadn’t given away when it did, 
we might have got across for we were on the shipping 
list and were due to start for Hoboken soon, but it broke 


and 1919 found me still patroling the border hoping for 
a scrap that never came. 

Mariston had been over with the Second Division but 
he had stopped a bit of high-ex shell and when he re- 
covered, he was sent home to train some of us in com- 
bat work. He was an expert machine gunner and a 
mighty fine chap, except that he didn’t believe in any- 
thing, not even Army Regulations. 

Nankivell was a newcomer to the regiment, a wash- 
out from the Air Service. He had been a first-class 
pilot and if lie had ever got to France, he would have 
been an ace, but he was held in Florida as an instructor 
and it soured him. He was a crazy sort of fool, seemed 
to love to take a chance and would bet on anything from 
a Presidential election to what we would have for dinner. 
He'd offer you a bet and then, if you didn't like the side 
he offered you, he’d take that side and let you have the 
other. I don’t think that he had a care in the world or a 
thought for the morrow. He would have been a top-hole 
combat man, but as a flying instructor, he wasn’t so 
good. His C. O. stood him as long as lie could, but 
when he cracked up his seventh plane and killed a 
youngster whom he was supposed to be teaching to 
fly, the Old Man called him in and advised him to trans- 
fer to some other branch. It made no difference to 
Nankivell, so when the C. O. suggested the Infantry, 
he made his application, and in due time, came to us. 

This gives you the cast, if we except Willis, who 
didn’t come in until later and Pedro, who was only an 
Indian after all, for all that he was a brave man and a 
true friend. The opening scene was my tent down near 
El Paso where we were supposed to be guarding the 
border and were in reality drilling all day and playing 
bridge most of the night. 

HAT arc you planning to do, Duncan, when they 
turn you loose?” asked Mariston as the evening 
bridge game dragged. 

‘‘Darned if I know,” I replied. “I don't feel like go- 
ing back to a laboratory again, but I don’t know what 
else to do. I might join the Mexican army. They seem 
to have a little fighting now and then." 


678 



They d take you all right,” laughed Morril, who was “Only Lieutenant Colonel?” asked Nankivell. “It 
ni ing our fourth hand. 1 A chap tackled me the other would have to be at least a Major General’s stars to at- 

tlay about it. He offered me a commission as a Lieu- tract me. From what I have seen of our friends, the 

tenant Colonel at forty pesos a day and said he could use spicks, a Lieutenant Colonel ranks with them about as 

more. 1 11 recommend you if you want me to.” a Corporal does with us.” 


679 


680 


AMAZING STORIES 


"I’m afraid that wouldn’t do,” was my rejoinder. 
“There’s some chance that the U. S. will have to 
intervene and I wouldn’t like to be caught on the other 
side of the line when that happens. I would like some 
excitement, though.” 

“We might go down to one 6f the banana republics 
and stage a revolution,” said Mariston thoughtfully. “I 
knew a chap that pulled that regularly and just as 
regularly lost his job the next month. If you can scare 
up a few thousands for guns and run them into any of 
the Central American states, you can get a following 
in two hours.” 

“Where could you get the guns?” asked Nankivell. 

“Bannerman would sell them if you could raise the 
cash,” he replied. 

“Let’s do it,” said Nankivell, laying down his hand. 
“I’ve got the money, or can get it easily enough. Which 
one shall we pick on?” 

“Oh, any one,” said Mariston. “If you are really 
interested, I’ll write down to Willis, the chap I spoke 
about and find out which one is ripest for trouble right 
now. If you’re in earnest, dig up the price of a boat- 
ticket from Rio de Janeiro to New Orleans and a rail 
ticket here and I’ll have him come up. He has had lots 
of experience at the game and he'll come anywhere, if 
you pay his way and guarantee him his expenses back 
again.” 

“Certainly I’m in earnest,” said Nankivell. “We are 
due for a return to civil life any day now and even if we 
weren’t, I'm tired of hanging around this place. Let’s 
get him up and see what he can do for us. Will you go 
into it, Dune?” 

“I guess so,” I replied. “I wouldn’t mind taking a 
whirl at something exciting for a while before I settle 
down again. I’ll split on the price of that ticket with 
you." 

“Split, nothing,” laughed Nankivell. “I'm the only 
one here who has money to throw away on this prospect, 
and nothing may ever come of it. If anything should, 
you can pay your share out of what we make.” 

“You fellows had better join the Mexican army,” 
counseled Morril. “This revolution sounds nice but you 
are overlooking one thing.” 

“What’s that?” asked Mariston. 

“You might start your fun all right and get away 
with it for twenty-four hours, but about that time, the 
New York Times would run a little squib on an inside 
page stating that ‘the Marines have landed and have the 
situation well in hand.’ ” 

“Not with Willis running the show,” replied Maris- 
ton. "At any rate, Frank, if you really mean business, 
turn me over an international money order for eight 
hundred tomorrow and I’ll write Willis and have him 
come up and tell us about conditions.” 

“You’ll have the eight hundred by ten o’clock to- 
morrow morning,” declared Nankivell. “Meanwhile 
where is Dune’s typewriter? I want to write a letter 
to the Adjutant General resigning from this man's 
army.” 

“Don’t be in too big a hurry about that,” I counseled. 
“Willis may not come and you may find yourself on the 
outside with no way of getting back.” 

“Willis will come all right,” said Mariston. “I helped 
him out of a little scrape down in Nicaragua some years 
ago and he’ll come if I send for him, no matter what he 
has on hand.” 


“And what were you doing in Nicaragua?” I asked. 

“I was with the United Fruit at the time. It wasn’t 
much that I did, but Willis made a lot of fuss about it 
and swore eternal gratitude. I think that Frank is right 
about resigning. Dune. If we are really going into this 
matter, we ought to meet Willis in New Orleans and 
work from there. It will take all of three weeks to get 
our resignations through and by that time he’ll be there. 
If we aren’t going into it, there is no use in sending for 
him at all and wasting his time and Frank’s money. I’ll 
.send mine in tonight if Frank does.” 

I thought rapidly. When I had said that I wanted to 
get into a little excitement, I was really expressing a 
sort of vague longing for something that I meant to do 
some time in the future. I had had no idea of rushing 
into things headlong. The idea of going adventuring was 
attractive enough and was an idea that had engrossed my 
imagination ever since I had read Captain Macklin as a 
boy, but when it came down to brass tacks, it looked more 
pleasant as a fascinating dream than as a grim reality. 
I wanted to go, all right, but I also wanted to get back 
to my laboratory and I wanted to get back to Molly. 
To be sure, the laboratory would wait, but Molly might 
not. I decided to hedge. 

“You fellows go ahead and resign,” I said. “I’ll have 
to think matters over a little more before I make up 
my mind which way to jump. I’ll tell you in a couple 
of days. If I don’t go, you can get along as well with- 
out me as with me, and if I do go, I’ll wire my resigna- 
tion in and get out as soon as you do.” 

“Don’t come unless you feel that it’s worth it,” coun- 
seled Mariston. “I have knocked around Central 
America a little and it’s no place for a man to start 
trouble unless he’s willing to go with his life in his hands 
most of the time. The only way to lead a gang of 
spiggoty insurrcctos is from behind with a club and you 
always have the cheering knowledge that any one of 
them would sell you out to any one who would give him 
four dollars Mex more than you were paying him. If 
you win, you get in soft for a while, but it’s even money 
that you get a firing squad.” 

“YVell, now that that’s settled,” said Nankivell, “who 
here knows the right way to word a resignation so that 
it will be accepted and not be sent back for correction?” 

I thought the matter over most of the night and finally 
made up my mind. I would leave the matter on the 
knees of the Gods; in other words, I’d make my action 
dependent on a woman’s whim. I wired Molly: “Am 
leaving the Army flat. Will you marry me when I get 
home?” Molly’s answer was typical of her. “Wouldn't 
you like to know?” she wired back. I carefully com- 
posed another wire. “This is an important matter. Stop 
joking long enough to give me a straight answer. My 
whole future depends on your reply.” The reply came 
in due course. “Don’t be so serious and tragic. I can’t 
help it if you are a joke. Make your pile and I’ll con- 
sider your proposal. If you think that I am going to live 
in three rooms in Flatbush and do my own laundry, 
you’d better change your brand. The kind you are 
smoking has too much hop in it.” 

If she hadn’t sent it collect, I might have been think- 
ing it over yet, but that collect was the push that sent 
me over the line. My next telegram was to the Adjutant 
General and informed him that the United States Army 
would have to worry along without my valuable services 
in the future. 


THE DRUMS OF TAPAJOS 


681 


CHAPTER II 
The Mysterious Knife 

S OMEHOW I had pictured Willis to myself as an 
elderly man, spare and wiry, with gray hair, and 
I was altogether unprepared for the individual 
who greeted us at New Orleans. Willis was not in the 
least like what I had always pictured adventurers, basing 
my fancy on my impression of General Laguerre. To 
start with, Willis couldn’t have been much over thirty 
and his hair was coal black. Far from the spare and 
rather small man I had pictured, he stood a good six 
feet three in his stockings and weighed at least two hun- 
dred and there was not an ounce of fat or surplus flesh 
on him. He was handsome too, in a way, and I could 
readily fancy him as the hero of the many amourous ad- 
ventures which Mariston credited to him. 

He came down the gang plank with a rush and greeted 
Mariston joyously. 

"What ho and also which?" he cried as he grasped 
Mariston’s outstretched hand. “So you have decided to 
go into the game after all, have you? Good news; 
couldn’t be better 1 Where are the recruits ?” 

Mariston introduced us and I could feel that Willis 
was sizing us up thoroughly in the manner of a man 
who often had to decide in a moment whether to trust 
his life to a stranger or to shoot first and ask questions 
afterwards. 

“Let’s go up to the Grunewald,” he said. “I heard 
that the United States had gone dry, so I brought some- 
thing pretty choice along with me. It’s in my grip and 
I'll get it as soon as I can worry it through the Customs. 
Have you any drag with them? No? Well, it doesn’t 
matter, I’ll manage it somehow.” 

He was good as his word and half an hour later we 
were seated in the suite that we had secured, listening 
to him talk. 

“Did Bob Mariston ever tell you what he did for me?” 
he asked. 

“Oh, shut up, Ray,” broke in Mariston. “That’s 
nothing to tell.” 

“The dickens it isn’t,” he replied. “It was one of the 
nerviest things I ever saw pulled. I was mixed up in 
the Valdez revolution in Nicaragua in 1911, and after we 
had failed to take Bluefields, the bottom fell out of 
tilings and my men deserted to Santuro’s general and 
took me with them, a prisoner. How Bob ever found 
out about it I don't know, but he showed up that night 
with a forged order from Santuro and took me out of 
camp. He cut my bonds and between us we policed up 
the two soldiers who were supposed to be guarding me 
and left them tied up and traveled all night. He smug- 
gled me aboard a United Fruit boat the next day and 
told the Skipper to light out for the States. Bob was 
Resident Manager for the United Fruit at the time and 
the Skipper did as he was told and asked no questions. 
Pretty cool deal, wasn’t it, youngster?” he went on, 
turning to Nankivell. 

"Once you were free, why didn’t you try to pick up 
a few men and run Santuro’s gang out?” Nankivell 
asked. 

Willis laughed. 

“He’ll do,” he said to Mariston. “In fact they’ll both 
do. Duncan here is rather cautious, but he’ll stick to 
the last gun or I don’t know the breed. We’ll have 


to watch the youngster though he’s a little too harum- 
scarum. It would be just like him to spoil a perfectly 
good ambush just to start the fun a little sooner, but he 
has nerve and to spare. Now that that is settled, what 
are your plans?” 

“You are our plans,” said Mariston. “I haven’t been 
south for several years and I am out of touch with 
conditions. I imagine that Nicaragua is too settled and 
Honduras is pretty well looted just now, but what 
about Salvador or Costa?” 

Willis looked rather thoughtful. 

“Are you really stuck on the revolution game?” he 
asked. 

“Not if we can get something better,” said Mariston. 

“I'll tell you, Bob, the revolution business isn't what 
it used to be,” said Willis. “Right now, especially, it is 
a rotten time to try to pull one. With the war just 
over, Washington has more Marines than they know 
what to do with and if anything cracked below Mexico, 
we’d have a detachment down there in no time. Besides 
the spiggoties are not so ready to revolute as they once 
were, and the Generals want too big a cut of the loot 
to make it very profitable for the promoter. Most of those 
governments have a few machine guns and trained 
crews now whom they pay well enough for them to sup- 
port the government, and you know what a few modern 
machine guns mean down there. I think that I have a 
line on something that will beat the old graft all hollow." 

“Is there a chance for some fun in it?” asked Nanki- 
vell. 

"Plenty, youngster, in fact all that even you will want. 
Bob, were you ever in the Cardoso country?” 

“No. That’s in Brazil, isn’t it?” 

“Yes, in central Para. There is a section down there 
that has never been explored. It lies between the Rio 
Tapajos on the west, the Rio Xingu on the east and the 
Rio Sao and the Rio Cariahy on the south. It’s an ab- 
solutely virgin wilderness of swamp and jungle, no 
rubber to speak of and no apparent reason exists for ex- 
ploring it. That’s probably why it hasn’t been opened. 
I’ve heard some mighty funny stories about that section 
and I was at Rio trying to get someone interested in 
the matter w’hen your cable came. I caught the next 
boat, because I figured that I owed you something, and 
it was my best chance to ever get square with you.” 

“What is it, Ray; rubber?” asked Mariston. 

“No, it’s a bigger game than that. Did you ever see 
anything like this?” 

He reached into his pocket and drew forth a long slim 
dagger with a glittering steel blade and a handle of 
yellow metal which had apparently once been thickly 
encrusted with stones. Mariston took it and examined 
it with interest. 

“No, I never did,” he said at length and passed the 
knife to Nankivell. 

“Grecian, isn’t it ?” asked Nankivell as he passed it to 

I tested the spring of the blade and tried the handle 
with a pocket knife before replying. 

“It’s not Grecian,” I said. “It looks more like Phoeni- 
cian than anything else but it has a steel blade. The 
handle isn't gold although it looks like it. It is some 
yellow alloy that is harder than gold could be and still 
keep that color. I would say at a guess that it’s about 
1913 German.” 

“You’re all wrong,” said Willis. “I have had that 


|682 


AMAZING STORIES 


thing for two years now and I have had it to a dozen 
museum curators. The design is nearer ancient Hebrew 
than anything else, but it isn’t quite right for that. The 
biggest mystery is about the blade. That blade is steel 
and it is rust-proof and tarnish-proof, steel. It is some 
alloy but I haven’t been able to find out what it has in 
it. It isn’t chromium and it isn’t vanadium and there 
isn't a chemist in the States that can identify it. It 
contains some element closely allied to molybdenum. 
Also, Duncan, you were wrong about the hilt. It is gold, 
or at least 82 per cent of it is.” 

‘‘What is the balance?” I asked, “Another mystery?” 

“No mystery at all. It is 3 per cent platinum, 5 per 
cent osmium and 10 per cent iridium. It is harder than 
fountain pen point alloy and valuable as the dickens.” 

I A HAT’S all very interesting," said Nankivell, “but 

A it isn’t getting us anywhere. The point is where did 
you get it and what has it to do with a South American 
revolution ?’’ 

“It hasn’t anything to do with a revolution, youngster, 
but it has a great deal to do with what I am talking 
about,” replied Willis. "Two years ago, I had business up 
the Rio Tapajos. Never mind what it was, it didn't pan 
out, but it carried me clear up to Bacabal and I stayed 
there for a couple of months. The town didn’t offer much 
in the line of amusement and besides my business lay in 
the interior, so I went up an unnamed stream about 
thirty miles above the town and camped. 

“One night while I was there, there was a disturbance 
outside my tent and I went out to see what it was all 
about. Rip, my dog, was barking his fool head off and 
I was afraid that some of the Indians might be planning 
a raid. They aren’t any too friendly there. 

“There wasn’t anything in sight, but Rip wanted me 
to go into the jungle, so I took my rifle and followed 
him a few yards, and there in the swamp I found a man. 
He was wasted to skin and bones by fever and was out 
of his head, jabbering in some dialect that I didn’t know. 
1 hauled him back to my tent and when I got him into 
the light, I got the surprise of my life. The man was 
white.” 

“White?” we chorused in amazement. 

“White,” he replied gravely, "or if not white, so near 
it that he would pass muster anywhere. He had the 
high cheek bones of an Indian and his hair was coal 
black, but it was curly. His nose was booked like an 
eagel’s beak. He was dressed in a long white robe of a 
peculiar pattern, something like a Japanese kimono, 
edged with a wide black border. I would have said that 
he was a Spanish Jew, but he couldn’t talk a word of 
Spanish. 

“I nursed him along for a few days and gave him 
some quinine and in time he came to. That was when 
I found out that he couldn’t talk Spanish. He babbled 
along for a while in his dialect and I gave him some beef 
tea with an opiate in it and he went ofF to sleep. He 
woke a good deal stronger, but it was the final flare-up 
before he went out. 

“He sat up in bed and started to talk. He was very 
grateful for the little that I had been able to do for him 
and he kissed my hand and stroked my head. He kept 
on talking but I couldn’t understand a word, although 
his speech sounded sort of musical. Finally he leaned 
over the side of the bed and tried to draw on the floor 
with his finger. I brought him a paper and a pencil and 


he seemed to know what they were for all right, for he 
started to make a map of some sort. As nearly as I 
could make out, it was a map of the stream we were 
on and its course into the interior. 

“I didn’t make out at first what it was about and he 
reached under his robe and opened a pouch that hung to 
his girdle and brought out this knife and handed it to 
me and started his jabbering again. Now comes the 
funny part of the yarn. When he started to talk, we 
heard a drumming in the jungle.” 

“Tom-toms?” asked Mariston. 

"No. At least, it didn’t sound like it. I seemed to 
feel it rather than to hear it. It must have been a good 
many miles away but it seemed to excite the sick man a 
good deal. As he drew the map, the drumming grew 
louder and louder, but it didn’t seem to come any nearer 
and it seemed to be inside of me rather than a sound 
coming from the outside. When he handed me the knife, 
the sound rose to a crescendo and the chap leaped out of 
bed, his eyes literally popping out of his head and he 
pointed toward the door. 

“I looked and there wasn’t a thing I could see, but he 
shrieked and began' to froth at the mouth. Fie swayed 
and I jumped for him and caught him as he fell, but it 
was too late. He was dead. I have picked up a good deal 
of medicine in my knocking around and I tell you, that 
man died of fright.” 

"Are you sure it wasn’t fever?” I asked. 

“No, sir, it was fright and nothing else. I have never 
in my life seen a face that depicted such absolute fear. 
It haunted me for weeks. Now for the second funny 
thing. When he dropped dead, the drumming stopped. 
It stopped absolutely and the sudden silence was un- 
canny. It was worse than the drumming had been. My 
nerves are pretty good, but when Rip sat back on his 
haunches and howled, I know that I had had enough. I 
left that tent like the Devil was after me and roused my 
boys and lit out for Bacabal that night. 

"I tried to find out something there, but the natives 
wouldn’t talk. One sight of that knife and they shut 
up like clams. I got my nerve back in a day or two and 
I went back to have a look in that pouch, but as I ex- 
pected, the body was gone. The Indians there are head- 
hunters to a man and a body won’t lie around long. 

“I went back to Belem and dug out one of the stones 
from the handle and sold it find got enough to come to 
the States. I have tried to get some dope, but after 
two years of consulting with chemists and metallurgists 
and archeologists, I know just as much as I did at first. 
From time to time, I dug out the stones and sold them. 
They were emeralds and turquoise with a good sprin- 
kling of rather small diamonds and I have realized eight 
thousand from them. The knife is worth about a thou- 
sand more. Now, here is the point. That knife came 
from the Cardoso country and where it was, there are 
more like it. I want to fit out an expedition and go 
after them. How does it sound?” 

"Hot puppies!” exclaimed Nankivell, “I’m with you 
right now. When do we start?” 

Mariston pondered the question for a few minutes be- 
fore he spoke. 

"Have you got that map?” he asked at length. 

“No, I haven’t. It disappeared from my clothes the 
next night. Of course I questioned my boys but they 
swore they hadn’t seen it and as Rip hadn’t raised any 
row, I don’t think it was stolen. I must have lost it out 


THE DRUMS OF TAPAJOS 


683 


of my pocket somehow. It was a remarkably clear piece 
of map-making and I wish that we had it, but we haven’t 
and we’ll just have to go it blind. The place is some- 
where in that country and I mean to go with equipment 
for a year and stay there until I locate it. Are you all 
with me?” 

‘‘What about it, Dune?” asked Mariston. “This is a 
new game to me and your judgment is as good as mine. 
If you say go, I’ll approve. If you say no, I may go 
anyway.” 

“I expect that it is as good as anything,” I replied. 
“It can’t be a lot riskier than the revolution we planned 
to start, and at least, we’ll have some good hunting.” 

“That’s settled then,” said Mariston. “How much 
money do we need, Ray, and what preparations shall we 
make ?” 

Chapter III 

The Tierra Prohibitiva 

AT BELEM, we secured those portions of our equip- 
ment which Willis and Mariston had thought un- 
economical to take from New Orleans and 
boarded a river steamer for Santarem. The leisurely trip 
up the mile-wide Amazon was a time of sheer delight for 
Nankivell and me. We never tired of watching the low 
banks, overhung with lush, tropical vegetation and 
speckled with scarlet, mauve, pink and white hibiscus 
blooms, “like confetti on a billiard table,” as Nankivell 
inelegantly put it. The gorgeous butterflies flitted from 
bloom to bloom and out over the water to rest for a 
time on the huge waxlike lilies that floated on the 
stream, creating the illusion that the flowers had taken 
wings unto themselves and were flying out to greet us. 
At times the channel which we were following ran in 
close to the bank and we could see little marmosets and 
monkeys skipping through the branches and pausing to 
peep curiously at us through the leaves. 

“Those monkeys arc pretty good eating,” remarked 
Willis one afternoon as the four of us sat idly watching 
the panorama spread out before us. 

“Do people eat them? White people, I mean?” I 
questioned. 

"They surely do, Dune, and are mighty glad to get 
them at times. This jungle is teeming with life, but it 
isn’t all edible or easy to get at if it is. There are lots 
of tapir in Para and quite a few deer, but you can hunt 
for days without seeing one, even when you are doing 
nothing but looking for them. It is the same with many of 
the varieties of birds, but you can almost always bag a 
monkey or a couple of parrots and both of them are all 
right for the table. The parrots are apt to be a little 
tough, but the monkeys are usually pretty good.” 

“I can’t quite fancy eating a monkey,” said Nankivell. 
“It seems too much like a form of cannibalism." 

“Cannibalism isn’t at all. unknown in the region we are 
headed for,” replied Willis. “As far as monkey-meat 
goes, I dare say that you'll eat a good many pounds of it 
before you see salt water again. Game is more plenti- 
ful in the Cardoso country than it is here, but even so, I 
expect that at times, we’ll be thankful for the monkeys.” 

"Perdonc, Ustedes,” interrupted a tall Spanish-looking 
man who had been leaning on the rail listening with 
amused tolerance to our talk, “did I understand you to 
say the Cardoso country ?” 


“Si, Senor," replied Willis. “We are going up the 
Rio Ta-pajos to Bacabal and then do a little hunting and 
exploring over toward the Rio Xingu.” 

"Madre de Dios!" exclaimed the Spaniard. “You 
caballeros must be tired of life. That is the tierra 
prohibitive." 

Willis visibly pricked up his ears. 

“The forbidden land?” he asked, “by whom is it for- 
bidden and what is forbidden in it?” 

"Quien sabc?" said the Spaniard with an expressive 
shrug of his shoulders. "ScTwrcs, I do not know, and 
yet I, Don Esteban Guzman, live on the outskirts of it 
at Itaituba. This, however, I do know; you will find 
no natives who will go with; you behind Bacabal unless 
you are keeping to the Rio Tapajos and are going di- 
rect to Manoel Cardoso. Since you go toward Itaituba, 
we will be camaradas as far as my home and I entreat 
you to make your stay at my humble casa while you are 
there. May I inquire whom I have the honor of address- 
ing?” 

“Thank you, Don," said Willis when he had made 
himself known and had introduced the rest of us. “We 
will be more than glad to accept your kindly offered 
hospitality. I know what passes for a posada in Itaituba 
and we will be mighty glad to escape it. Pardon my 
curiosity, but I am surprised to find one of evident 
Spanish descent here.” 

“Most of my neighbors are of Portuguese ancestry,” 
replied the Don, “but my ancestors had settled here be- 
fore the Holy Father divided the lands and gave Brazil 
to Portugal and here we remain going with each genera- 
tion deeper and deeper into the interior.” 

“That is very interesting," said Willis. “But tell us 
more about this forbidden country.” 

"S chores, I do not know. There are tales and tales, 
but since you have been here before you know the 
natives. There are tales of huge beasts, more horrible 
than the imagination of man can picture; there are tales 
of a race of sorcerers and magicians; there are tales of 
demons and unchained devils; there are tales of swamps 
and jungles which no man can cross. Which of these is 
the truth, if any of them are, I cannot tell you. Pedro, 
my mayordomo, went into the tierra prohibitiva once in 
his youth. He came back three months later, an old 
man ; the only one out of a party of sixteen who started. 
He has been in my employ for over twenty years and I 
know him well, but not one word of what happened to 
him and to the rest of the party has he ever told me. I 
do not love the jungle and have never tried to go in that 
direction. Some have, lured by the siren call of adven- 
ture, but only once in a generation. None has ever 
returned.” 

“The road to Manoel Cardoso is open, isn’t it ?” asked 
Willis. 

“It is open to those who keep the main line of the 
Rio Tapajos and wander not off into the side streams. 
That way lies madness and death. I have heard that 
one man went up a stream beyond Bacabal once, some 
two years or more ago and he returned alive but with 
the face of the dead. He is said to have brought with 
him great treasure, but I was in Belem at the time and 
did not see him. I doubt the story, although my servants 
claim to have seen him and talked with him. His name 
was Senor King.” 

“King?” muttered Willis thoughtfully, “I don’t be- 
lieve that I ever heard of him.” 


684 


AMAZING STORIES 


“He was such a man as you are, by the description, 
Seiior, but my servants said that deadi was written on 
his brow and that he could not have reached Santarem 
alive. The whole thing may be but a fable ; at least we 
have never heard of him again. Come, let us go forward 
to the smudges. The sun will be setting soon and the 
mosquitos will be after us.” 

At Santarem, our friendship with Don Esteban saved 
us from the horrors of the local posada and secured us 
an invitation to stop at the home of the manager of a 
rubber plantation a few miles up the river. Mariston 
suggested that we try to secure servants here, but Willis 
negatived the idea. 

“These town Indians are too civilized to be any good 
at jungle work,” he said, “and they are apt to be more 
superstitious and devil-ridden than the wild product. 
The priests have hold of them here and have tried to 
teach them Christianity. The only result they have 
achieved has been that their converts have grafted the 
whole Christian theogony upon their own system of 
Gods and devils and have twice as many things to fear 
and no more to help them. We’ll wait until we get to 
Itaituba at least and possibly Bacabal.” 

At length the little stern-wheel steamer groaned her 
way down from Itaituba and we boarded her. It was 
noticeable that the country was rapidly growing wilder. 
From Belem to Santarem, occasional villages were to be 
seen along the river bank and even two or three fair- 
sized towns, while patches of cleared or semi-cleared 
land were not uncommon. Around Santarem, the same 
was true, but beyond Aveiros, nothing much of the sort 
was to be seen. The few tiny hamlets along the bank 
were scattered long distances apart and often hours 
would pass without a dwelling to break the monotony 
of the jungle. 

“Get ready to look your last on the bright lights, 
youngster,” said Willis to Nankivell one evening. “We 
are due in Itaituba tomorrow and it is the last city we’ll 
meet until we get back to it. It has all of three thousand 
inhabitants, if you count all the Indians, and has weekly 
mail service. You can send your last letters off from 
there and hope that they eventually get to the States, 
but when we leave we are on our own.” 

Our host's mayordomo, Pedro, met the steamer at the 
landing, backed up by an assortment of individuals of 
both sexes and of all colors from that of dirty parchment 
to mahogany brown. Apparently, Don Esteban was a 
man of some local prominence. 

“Pedro,” said the Don, “these caballcros are my 
guests. While they remain, they are your masters and 
their lightest wish is law. Their names are Senor Maris- 
ton, Seiior Nankivell, Seiior Duncan and Seiior Willis.” 

Pedro babbled a string of Spanish mixed with Indian 
and bent low before each of us in turn. Willis was the 
last he saluted and when he raised his head and saw 
W'lhs’ face, his own went suddenly ashen. 

"Seiior Ray!" he gasped. “You do not die?” 

“Mister King?” exclaimed Don Esteban in surprise 
with a searching glance at Willis. 

Willis looked puzzled for a moment and then burst 
into laughter. 

“I beg your pardon, Don Esteban," he said. “I had 
no idea of running under a false name. My name is 
Ray Willis and Pedro called me Mister Ray. I forgot 
when you spoke of King, that rey is king in Spanish and 
that you had translated the name for our benefit.” 


“And you have been here before?” asked Don Este- 
ban, “You are the man who has penetrated the tierra 
prohibit iva and returned to tell the tale ?” 

“I haven’t been into it far, Don Esteban, biit I am 
going in deeper with my friends on this trip. I have 
been up a little beyond Bacabal and into the jungle for 
a few miles, but nothing to speak of. It was enough to 
excite my curiosity however and I have decided to go 
into it.” 

"Senor Willis, life must be hateful to you,” replied 
Don Esteban gravely. “Were I alcalde, it would be my 
duty to prevent you from going, but fortunately I am 
not an official and a Guzman has never betrayed his 
guests. To all who ask, you are going directly to 
Manoel Cardoso, Pedro, do you understand ?” 

"Si, Senor," replied Pedro submissively. 

T WO weeks slipped away pleasantly at Don Este- 
ban’s “humble” casa, which proved to be, in reality, 
a palace. The Don was the magnate of the town, own- 
ing all the rubber in the vicinity and most of the rest 
of the arable land. Much of it, lie informed us, he held 
by virtue of a grant to one of his ancestors from the 
Crown of Portugal. The fact that we were his guests 
was sufficient to secure for us the hearty cooperation 
of every one in the town and proved to be almost enough 
to overcome the mahana which confronted us at every 
turn. It was easy to secure boats and boatmen for a 
trip to Manoel Cardoso and in time everything was 
ready for us. Don Esteban tried in vain to dissuade us 
from embarking on our adventure, but when he found 
it hopeless he raised his voice in our behalf and com- 
manded that we were to be aided in every way possible. 

“Your boatmen will desert you at Bacabal when they 
find out where you are going,” he said. “I doubt if you 
can get any there for your trip, but I am going to send 
Pedro along with you that far. My name is not with- 
out influence in this country and he can speak in my 
name to more purpose than you can, although you, 
Seiior Willis, are one of our local deities and can get 
men for your purpose where even I would fail. Your 
goods are ready and there is nothing save my wishes to 
delay you. Will you not give up this foolish venture?" 

“Absolutely no, Senor; thanks just the same,” an- 
swered Willis. “We hate to tear ourselves away but 
with your permission we will start in the morning. We 
will return Pedro in good condition in a few days and 
we thank you very much for sparing him to us.” 

We started at dawn the next morning. We traveled 
in two canoes, Willis and I in the leading one with Pedro 
as Captain, Mariston and Nankivell bringing up the rear 
in another canoe under the command of Pedro’s son-in- 
law, Juan. 

Daybreak over the Tapajos was a scene of beauty 
never to be forgotten. As the blue of night faded into 
the gray of early dawn the parrots and monkeys awoke 
and began their endless chatter. The grey gave way to 
a rosy hue and long streamers of crimson, green and 
scarlet waved in the sky overhead. Gradually the shore 
became visible and when the sun rose in a burst of 
golden splendor and the mosquitos departed for the day, 
I leaned back filled with the real joy of living. 

Close under the bank we traveled to avoid the swift 
currents and the treacherous rapids that infested the 
stream. Little marmosets ran along the bank beside us, 
leaping from tree to tree and voicing their displeasure at 


THE DRUMS OF TAPAJOS 


685 


our intrusion in a series of petulant cries, which would 
be suddenly hushed for no apparent reason, only to 
break out again in a moment with renewed violence. 
Other forms of life were evident too. I watched with 
languid interest a log that came floating down stream 
near us. As it came nearer, I pointed it out to Willis. 

“That's the kind of log that eats people,” he remarked 
with a smile. “Watch.” 

He drew an automatic pistol from his pocket and took 
careful aim. The report scared clouds of parrots up 
from the jungle on the bank and the clamor of the 
monkeys was suddenly hushed. The log that I had 
been watching suddenly reared itself up and enormous 
jaws opened to let out a bellow that froze my marrow 
before the log disappeared with a swirl into the muddy 
water. 

As the morning wore on, it became insufferably hot. 
One could see the vapor rising from the river and even 
the parrots and monkeys quieted down. At length Pedro 
held up his hand and gave a cry in the Indian tongue. 
Both canoes turned in to shore and the crews leaped 
out with machetes. Huge swaths of palm fronds were 
cut and thrown into the boats and we again took our 
course out into the river. Out from the bank we went 
for perhaps a hundred yards, the second canoe following 
us closely. Pedro scanned the water closely at the bow, 
while at the stern one of the paddlers poised on the edge 
of the boat a large rock attached to a cord. At a word 
from Pedro he let it drop into the river and the canoe 
swung down the current and came to a halt. 

"Refection y siesta," explained Pedro. 

“Couldn’t we eat and sleep in more comfort on the 
shore?” I asked. 

“The mosquitos would eat us alive,” exclaimed Willis. 

The leaves were thrown over an awning under which 
we sat and others were rigged into a shelter for the 
crew. The generous lunch baskets provided by Don 
Esteban were opened and their contents spread out. It 
was too hot to eat much and entirely too hot to sleep 
as I thought, but the effects of the food soon made itself 
felt and in a few minutes I was fast asleep. It was 
several hours later when I was awakened by the stirring 
of the crew and the anchor was retrieved and the voyage 
resumed. Late that evening we came to Bella Vista, 
where a word from Pedro secured us a grass hut for the 
night. 

The second day was a copy of the first, except that we 
slept in the canoes and did not reach Saraiva, the next 
hamlet, until the third night. It was a lazy life and one 
that I thoroughly enjoyed and it was with a tinge of 
sorrow, and, I must confess, apprehension, that I learned 
on the sixth day that we would reach Bacabal that eve- 
ning. 

At noon we made our customary trip to shore to se- 
cure palm fronds for our noon shelter. We reached the 
bank and Pedro sprang ashore. As he did so, his legs 
were suddenly swept from under him and he fell with 
a piercing scream. 

"Sucuru! Sucuru!" cried Juan. 

Sure enough the dreaded twenty foot water snake 
had him. The huge black coils were rapidly fastening 
around his middle. I sat paralyzed while the drama 
played itself out. Willis sprang for shore but missed 
and went down into the muddy water. He floundered 
around and tried to gain the bank but the second canoe 
swung in ahead of us and Mariston and Nankiv' 


sprang out. Nankivell had siezed a machete from Juan 
and armed only with it, leaped into the fray. He seized 
the cruel black head in one hand and swung viciously 
with his machete. The sucuru realized that this intruder 
spelled danger to him and with lightning quickness un- 
coiled from Pedro and whipped his coils about Nanki- 
vell. Mariston had grabbed a shotgun as he had jumped 
for shore but had been unable to fire for fear of hitting 
Pedro. As the snake transferred his attention to 
Nankivell, the shotgun roared but it inflicted only a flesh 
wound which served to further enrage the snake. 
Tighter and tighter grew the coils and Nankivell cried 
out in agony and smote futilely again and again with his 
machete. 

“His tail !” shouted Willis from the water. “Get his 
tail! Bob, for God’s sake, shoot his tail off!” 

The words penetrated at length to Mariston’s con- 
sciousness and he rushed in and placed the muzzle of his 
gun against the snake’s tail and fired. The charge of 
small shot tore through the snake and it tightened with a 
convulsive movement. Nankivell’s machete dropped 
from his nerveless fingers and Mariston seized it and 
with one blow severed the tail from the body. Deprived 
of the leverage which enabled him to use his enormous 
constrictive force, the sucuru dropped from Nankivell’s 
body and tried to glide off into the water, but Willis had 
reached the bank and broke its back with a well aimed 
blow of a paddle. 

Nankivell was unconscious and we bent over him 
anxiously. Willis made a hasty examination and straight- 
ened up with a relieved expression. 

“No bones broken,” he announced. “Pie has fainted 
from the pain, but he’ll come around all right. Dune, 
give me the brandy.” 

A few drops between his lips soon brought Nankivell 
around. Willis insisted that he lay quietly in the boat 
although Nankivell laughingly insisted that, aside from 
a severe pounding, he was all right. Pie had often been 
more battered after a hard football game, he insisted, 
but despite his protests Willis kept him on his back for 
the rest of the day and had him carried ashore and into 
our hut at Bacabal. 

After supper, Pedro tapped on our hut near the door- 
way. He entered at Mariston’s invitation and seated 
himself on the floor beside Nankivell. 

“ Sehor Frank,” he said gravely, “you are a brave 
man !” 

“Nonsense!” said Nankivell, “I didn’t show any 
bravery. What I did was just plain foolishness.” 

“It was the foolishness that heroes show,” said Pedro, 
“and it saved my life at the risk of your own. None but 
a brave man would have done it.” 

“If I had stopped to reason all that out, it might have 
been a brave thing,” said Nankivell, “but I didn’t. I 
rushed in before I thought and once the brute had me, 
there was nothing to do but fight it out with him.” 

“That is very well to say, but had you not been brave 
you would have stopped to think and then you would 
not have rushed in. The brave man does not think when 
his servant is in danger. He acts. The life that you have 
saved belongs to you.” 

“But I didn’t save your life,” protested Nankivell. 
“It was Mariston who shot the snake and cut it in half 
and it was Willis who killed it. All that I did was to 
get myself into danger.” 

“You drew his attack from my worthless self to you,” 


686 


AMAZING STORIES 


said Pedro, "and thus let me live. But for you, he would 
have crushed me like an eggshell. My life is yours and 
since you have offered your life for mine, I will pay the 
debt and give mine for yours. Will you and the other 
Sehores not give up this foolish trip into the ticrra pro- 
hibitive t, if I assure you that it is certain death to attempt 
it?’’ 

"Of course not, Pedro,” laughed Nankivell. “We 
didn’t come all the way from the States to be scared 
off by fairy stories. We have started something and 
we’ll finish it, dead or alive, no questions asked.” 

“Sciior Frank,” said Pedro, his face even more grave 
than it had been when he entered, “you will finish it dead. 
Since you will not otherwise be dissuaded, I must give 
my life for yours. I am an old man and have little time 
to live and it may be that the gift of my life will make 
the Gods lenient and they will turn your minds from this 
foolishness. Since you will not abandon your trip with- 
out it, I will tell you of the trip which I made into the 
tiara prohibitiva, although the telling will cost me my 
life.” 

CHAPTER IV 

Pedro’s Story 

ENORES, this happened many years ago, when 
I was a young man and strong. I was born here 
in Bacabal in a little hut that has long since gone. 
My mother lived in that hut but my father was away 
much of the time. Where he went and what he did, 
I do not know, but the villagers have told me that he 
was one of the wild men of the jungle, the servants of 
the demons who live there. At times he came to the 
village to see my mother and to play with me and when 
he came, I noticed that the other men made much respect 
to him. None would speak until he had spoken his say 
and while he was away, the hunters kept my mother 
supplied with the choicest food that was to be had. At 
length, just before I had grown to manhood, he paid us 
his last visit. 

“ ‘Pedro,’ he said to me, ‘you are a strong youth and 
will make a mighty hunter some day. I go my way into 
the farthest jungle to the houses of stone and many who 
take that road return no more. If I come not again, 
when you are come to the age of bearing weapons, if 
you feel the call of the jungle in your blood, go boldly 
ahead into the jungle and show this token to the first one 
you meet and be guided by his orders as though they 
were mine. Keep this securely and above all, go not into 
the ticrra prohibitiva without it, for without it, death 
will come on you suddenly and unseen. One more cau- 
tion ; tell no one that you have it, not even your mother. 
Above all, tell not the servant of the white God.’ 

“The next morning he went from us back into the 
jungle and he came to Bacabal no more. Like the child 
that I was, the importance of the secret and the token 
that I had, made me long for the respect that I knew 
would be mine, if the village knew that I were free to 
enter where they dared not go. For a time fear of my 
father and the gravity of his words made me keep the 
secret, but, as the days passed and he came no more, 
the temptation was too much for me to withstand and I 
talked of what I had. The news traveled rapidly and in 
time the padre heard of it and sent for me. 

“I told him nothing and would not speak when he 
questioned me, but he cried out suddenly that I was 


possessed of a devil and had men seize and search me. 
They found nothing and the hut where my mother and 
I lived was searched also, but I had hidden the token 
securely and he could not find it. He allowed me to go, 
saying that it was only a childish boast, but unknown 
to me he had me watched. I went at length to the hiding 
place, where I had secreted it, and his spies seized me 
and brought me before him with the token in my hand. 

“In those days, schorcs, there was no law in the land 
save the law of might and the law of the church. I was 
scourged with rods and burned with fire, but I was 
stubborn like my race and I would not speak. The 
padre gave up at last and had more fire brought and 
after sprinkling the token with holy water, he cast it on 
the fire and burned it, saying that it was a token of the 
Evil One and that to handle it were to send oneself to 
the fires forever. 

“When I grew older, I became a boatman and the 
river from Santarem to Manoel Cardoso became an open 
book to me. In Manoel Cardoso I found that there were 
others who came into the village at times ag my father 
had come into Bacabal, and to them I tried to talk of 
him. Either they knew him not or they feigned igno- 
rance. None would admit that he knew of the existence 
of the sign that my father had given me, so it may be 
that it was peculiar to this section, or it may be that 
they lied. 

“My mother outlived my father’s departure but a few 
years, and after she died I decided to seek my father in 
the ticrra prohibitiva. Had I retained the token he had 
given me, it would have been simple and I would not 
have needed aid from others, but it had gone from me 
and I dared not go alone without it. There are always 
tales along the river of the fabulous riches that await 
him who dares to enter and who succeeds in conquering 
the mysterious land to the east and many men have gone 
into the jungle, never to return. Then for a time none 
venture, but when their children grow up, they laugh and 
say, 'What my father failed at, I can do,’ and another 
party disappears into the unknown east, never to return. 

“It had been a full generation since the search had 
been attempted, and I had little trouble in securing 
a party of fifteen strong and brave youths who were 
willing to follow me into the unknown. About twenty 
miles from here, there is a stream that leads off to the 
southeast and about sixty miles farther, there is another. 
I knew them both well for I had passed them many times 
on my trips to Manoel Cardoso and it was the second of 
these streams which we ascended. 

“The venture was doomed from the beginning. One 
of my comrades was taken by the dreaded sucuru before 
we left the Rio Tapajos and another was taken by the 
fever and died as we turned our canoes east. The 
mosquitos were terrible in the smaller stream up which 
we went and the shoal water threatened to overturn us 
hourly. When we leaped over to push the canoe ahead, 
the stingrays would gash our limbs and the hungry 
piranha fish would bite pieces from our bodies. We 
were not of faint hearts and for fifteen days we pressed 
forward without seeing or hearing a soul. No game 
could we find, even the parrots and monkeys seemed to 
have deserted the jungle and our stock of sarque and 
guarana was nearly gone. My comrades murmured and 
would have turned back, but I shamed them into going 
on. Would that I had yielded to their desires. 

“On the seventeenth day, the men of the forbidden 


THE DRUMS OF TAPAJOS 


687 


ground attacked us. We were pressing ahead in our 
canoes when suddenly the air was filled with the sound 
of devil-drumming. From all sides it came an/1 it 
pounded into our brains like a thing alive. No, seiiores, 
it was not the sound of tom-toms. I have beaten the 
tom-tom and hunted for heads in my day and I will 
swear that this was not the sound we heard. It was the 
sound of such drums as the devils beat in their mad 
torture dances when they have a human being in their 
power. Paralyzed with fear, we sat motionless and 
there came to my ears a sound of dread that I knew 
well, the keen whish that is the sound of the flying arrow. 
I ducked my head, but it was not at me that the shaft of 
death was aimed. The man ahead of me gasped as the 
shaft flew past him, barely scratching his arm. 

“The wound was slight but we, who were jungle bred 
and who knew the deadly poison that those shafts carry, 
knew that he was doomed. We said farewell to him 
sadly and in a moment the poison worked its end and' 
with a shriek he threw himself overboard. It was a deep 
stretch of the river and only a swirling eddy showed 
where he had fallen. He never came to the surface. 

"Again the others wanted to turn back, but I spurred 
them on. We turned out to the opposite bank so that 
we would be out of range of the arrows and went for- 
ward. The drumming came again and it was more 
ominous and threatening than it had been before. We 
bent to our paddles and drove forward at our best speed, 
hoping to. outrun it. Again the drumming rose to a 
higher note and again came that fatal whish and our 
number was one less than it had been. 

“Then, seiiores, came a voice. It was not a shout from 
the bank, but it was a low voice speaking, as it seemed, 
beside us. ‘Oh, foolish men !’ it said, ‘You have dared 
the unknown to seek for treasure. Yet because of your 
bravery, treasure will be yours, the greatest treasure 
that man can win, swift and merciful death. Only two 
of you will ever live to sec the broad surface of the 
Tapajos again and only one will reach his home. Turn 
back if you will, but it will not avail you. Your doom 
has been spoken.’ 

“TX/TTH howls of fear we turned our canoes down 

tv stream and fled; but in vain. The voice had 
spoken truth. One by one my comrades met death, sud- 
den an d merciful as the voice had foretold. For some 
it was the flight of an arrow, for others the pull of a 
whirlpool, for others the stroke of a snake, but one by 
one they went until there were but two left, myself and 
another, Jose. With awe-stricken faces we continued on 
that way of death until we knew that we were almost 
within sight of the river. Then came the voice again. 

“ 'Direct your canoe to the bank. There leave your 
weapons and go forward, looking neither to the right nor 
the left until you are stopped.’ We feared to obey but 
we feared more to disobey and we did as we were told. 
Forward through the jungle we went, looking neither 
to the right nor to the left, as we had been ordered. At 
length we came to a wall of lianas which stopped us and 
we stood there in fear, awaiting what might befall us. 

“For a time we waited and then a voice spoke from 
behind us and told us to turn. Seiiores, I am jungle 
bred and no man could have moved behind me but I 
would have heard him, yet there stood a man or maybe 
it was a jungle demon arrayed as a man. His face was 
.white but his hair was as black as mine and it curled. 


His nose was hooked like the beak of the vulture and 
there was cruelty and knowledge, yes, wisdom unutter- 
able, in those cold gray eyes and the thin-lipped mouth. 
This demon looked at us and it seemed that my inner- 
most thoughts were bare before him. At length he 
spoke in our own tongue. 

“ ‘Of all who have dared to seek the ways that are 
hidden and to tread the road which is forbidden to all 
save those who bear the token, only you two have been 
spared. You, Pedro, I have spared for the loyal service 
which your father rendered for many years, despite the 
indiscretion which made you lose the token of safety 
which he gave to you. You, Jose, I have spared for the 
service which your father’s father’s father rendered to 
me in his day. Both of you are free to depart, but what 
you have seen and what you have heard it is not lawful 
to speak of. So long as your minds rule your tongues 
you are safe, yet it is known to me, through my arts, that 
one* of you will fail ere you reach your home. Harken 
now to my orders. Speak not of what you have seen 
nor of what you have heard even to yourselves or to 
each other, for to me a thought is as clear as the loudest 
shout. Now, go in peace !’ 

“We turned and fled to our canoe. We paddled like 
mad and when we had turned a bend in the stream the 
Rio Tapajos lay open before us. Toward home we sped 
with all our strength and ere nightfall we had covered 
many miles toward Bacabal. The words of the wizard 
had sealed my tongue, as I had thought then, forever, 
but Jose was a boastful man and a great talker and as 
we sat in our canoe he spoke of that which we had seen. 

“ ‘Do you believe that the great wizard spoke the truth 
-when he said that our thoughts were open to him?' he 
asked me. Fear froze my tongue and I answered 
naught. Well it was for me that I did not, for hardly 
had he spoken than the air was filled with the sound of 
the devil drums. Louder and louder they came and 
suddenly Jose screamed and pointed before him. I 
could see nothing, but he fought and struck at something 
in the air before him. Backward he was pressed to the 
edge of the canoe and with a final scream of agony, he 
went overboard and disappeared in the swirling water. 
There are many things in the river that will take the 
incautious bather and it was no wonder to me that I 
saw him no more. 

"Seiiores, all through the night I paddled and so great 
was my strength that I reached Bacabal the next day. 
Many questioned me, but I would not speak and would 
not permit myself to even think of what I had seen 
and heard. I went on to Itaituba and took service with 
my lord, Don Esteban, and until this day, I have never 
spoken of that trip. My life belongs to you, Seiior 
Frank, and although I know that the doom the wizard 
foretold will fall on me as it fell on Jose, I have spoken. 
You will heed my words and not go?” 

“It’s a rum story,” said Nankivell, “but it makes me 
all the more anxious to go ahead. Your white wizard 
may be proof against native weapons, but I have an 
idea that old buddy Springfield will let daylight through 
him if he starts anything with us. Yes, Pedro, I for 
one am going through with it.” 

“So am I,” said Mariston, and Willis and I nodded 
assent. 

“If you go, Sehor Frank, I go with you,” said Pedro. 
“My life is forfeit already and the gods may grant that 
in dying I may pay my debt.” 


688 


AMAZING STORIES 


“Fine business,” spoke up Willis. “Now let’s check 
up and see just what we have found out. In the first 
place, it's a hard country to go into. We knew that 
before. In the second place, there are bad Indians 
there. We knew that also. In the third place, there 
seems to be some controlling head who is white, unless 
he was the man who died in my tent two years ago, which 
is not unlikely. In the fourth place, there is some kind 
of a token that would take us in in safety if we could 
get a hold of it, and finally, we have secured a guide who 
has been in for quite a distance. Things ’are looking 
better. Pedro, what did that token look like?” 

“It was a piece of wood, Schor, with some strange 
marks on it, like those at which the padre looks when he 
speaks from the great book.” 

“That don’t help much,” said Mariston thoughtfully. 
"There may be another one somewhere, but we could 
never find it. Pedro would know of it if it was where 
we could lay hands on it. I guess we'll have to go it 
blind.” 

“Blind is right,” said Willis. "I wish we had the 
token, but we will have to go without it. We have one 
token, however, that may help us along the road peace- 
fully if they only understand it.” 

“What’s that?" I asked. 

“A battery of four Springfield rifles," he replied 
grimly. 

CHAPTER V 

The Gateway of the Unknown 

ON ESTEBAN had been right when he had 
said that it would be a difficult matter for us 
to obtain boatmen at Bacabal. So long as the 
natives thought that there was merely a trip to Manoel 
Cardoso in the wind there were volunteers in plenty, 
but as soon as the word got out that we were headed for 
the dreaded tierra prohibitiva the ranks of the applicants 
thinned marvelously. Even the name of Don Esteban, 
which was freely used by both Willis and Pedro, had 
little effect. Pedro then let it be known that both he 
and Willis had made the trip before, and he minimized 
the danger of the trip and derided the tales of the un- 
known east as the fancies of old women and as things 
not worth the consideration of a strong man. This sort 
of talk finally had the desired effect and we obtained 
three recruits. Carlos, the youngest, was a quarterbred 
mestizo with all the volubility and braggadocio of his 
Spanish ancestor. Oton and Diego were fullblooded 
Indians. The former we were especially glad to get, 
for we were told that he was the grandson of one of 
the Indians of the same tribe as Pedro’s father. 

We tried to secure two more, for our canoes were 
large and could not be easily handled by a crew of less 
than five, four paddlers and a steersman, but since no 
more were forthcoming we decided to make out as best 
we could and made ready to start. Willis and Pedro 
consulted at length and compared notes, in order to 
decide which of the two main streams into the interior 
we should take. 

By taking the farther one we would have the advan- 
tage of Pedro's guidance, but as it had been some twenty 
years since he had been into the interior, it was likely 
that his memory would not be sufficiently exact to be of 
much value. The other stream was known to Willis for 


a few miles, but his knowledge was not extensive enough 
to warrant having much more dependence placed on it 
than could be placed on Pedro’s more ancient but more 
extensive exploration. Willis settled the argument in 
a characteristic manner. 

“All that Pedro can tell us is of danger and sudden 
death,” he said. “I can take you lots of places where 
we will find that. On the other hand, the nearer stream 
did yield some treasure, and treasure is what we are 
after. The white man, that Pedro saw, may or may not 
have been the one who died in my tent, but if he was, 
it is merely a sign that both streams are actively pa- 
trolled by the Indians and that one is no better than the 
other. There is another thing to consider. When my 
man drew his map, he drew it of the stream that we 
were on and he indicated a practicable, even if difficult, 
road to the place where we want to go. We’ll take the 
nearer stream and hope for the best. Another reason 
for taking the nearer stream is that I don't trust Carlos’ 
bravery any too much, and if it gets too long a trip on 
the Rio Tapajos it may evaporate before we turn east 
and we need him on a paddle. One of our canoes will 
carry seven at a pinch but it wouldn’t leave enough room 
for equipment. Are the canoes all packed, Frank?” 

“All set to travel,” replied Nankivell. “How are we 
going to split up and when shall we start?" 

“I’ll go in the first canoe with Oton and Carlos and 
I’ll take Dune along to keep Carlos from talking too 
much. Pedro will go in the second canoe with you and 
Marison and Diego. Bob will be in command of it, but 
Pedro will have a voice in any council of war that is 
called. He is a very level-headed fellow and his judg- 
ment of the wild Indians is worth a great deal. I’d like 
to have him with me, but he wouldn’t stand for being 
separated from Frank, and in fact it is better to have 
one of the previous explorers in each boat. It’ll tend 
to steady the new men. Since we are all ready to start 
we might as well pull out in the morning. Frank, 
you’re sure that you have plenty of guaranaf” 

“That and zarque both,” he replied. 

“Zarquc is all right, but most of the time we can 
probably get fresh meat, but we can’t get guarana in the 
jungle and it is the best bet.” 

“Just what is it?” I asked. 

“It’s a dried fruit. When you are out of everything 
else, you can make a drink out of it that will keep you 
going for days with practically nothing else. It is light 
and compact and it carries more safety per pound for 
a man in the jungles than anything else. Well, we had 
better turn in now, for we will want to get going at 
least an hour before daylight if we are going to make 
our camp off the Tapajos tomorrow night. It is nearly 
thirty miles to the point where we turn east and there 
is one nasty rapid in the way.” 

The wisdom of the paddling lesson which Willis had 
insisted that we all take during our stay at Itaituba 
and Bacabal was very evident the next day. It was true 
that we had traveled from Itaituba to Bacabal by canoe, 
but there is a big difference between lying at full length 
on cushions while a well-trained crew drives the craft 
forward and straining at an unwieldy paddle in a canoe 
built for one more paddler than is in it. Despite our 
best efforts, when night fell we were several miles short 
of our proposed camping place. When darkness fell we 
gave it up and anchored our boats well out from shore 
and turned in. I would have sworn that I was entirely 



THE DRUMS OF TAPAJOS 


6S<) 


too tired to sleep, but despite our cramped quarters I 
soon fell into a dreamless slumber that lasted until 
Willis roused me an hour before daybreak. 

“What are we going to do, Bob ?” called Willis across 
the water. “Dune says he is entirely too sore to paddle 
today.” 

"Well, he’s got nothing on me if he is,” came back 
in Nankivell’s voice. “Every time I move an arm I 
want to yell ‘ouch.’ ” 

Willis’ hearty laugh boomed out. 

“I’m not any too spry myself, if the truth has to be 
told,” he said. “We’ll have to go at it easy and rest 
often for* the first hour or so. It’s not going to do us 
any good to get all stove up right at the start. I didn’t 
say anything yesterday, for I knew that it wouldn’t do 
any good. Break away and pull easy for half an hour 
until you are warmed up and then it will come a good 
deal easier. 

The morning was a repetition of the preceding day. 
We pulled until eleven o’clock, took a siesta until three 
and then started again. The rapids that Willis had 
mentioned delayed us rather more than we had antici- 
pated, and it was nearly nightfall when Oton pointed 
to a break in the green on the left-hand bank and said 
something to Willis. 

"There she is, Dune,” said Willis to me. “There is 
the gateway of the unknown. We can get in all right, 
but the Lord only knows how many of us will get out.” 

With a sweep of his paddle he turned the canoe’s' 
head to the left and we entered the small stream. For 
a few minutes the broad sweep of the Tapajos was visible 
behind us and then a turn in the. stream hid it from 
view. Willis ordered us to halt and waved to the 
second canoe to come up alongside us. 

“Listen here, you men,” he said to the native boatmen, 
“here is where we leave the Rio Tapajos behind us and 
go ahead to God knows what. Some of us are pretty 
sure not to come back again ; maybe none of us will. I 
don’t want to take anyone with us against his will, and 
i f you want to pull out for "home, you are welcome to 
take one of the boats and go. If you decide to stick, 
you are enlisting for the duration of the war, and I’ll 
shoot any one of you who tries to bolt later. Make up 
your minds wh*>t you want to do before you speak, for 
we’ll stand no foolishness later.” 

“Me, Carlos, I go,” spoke up Carlos promptly. 

"I go with Seiior Frank,” said Pedro simply. 

Oton and Diego consulted together in the Indian 
tongue. 

“We go on,” said the former at last. “We trust our 
Good Spirit to protect us.” 

“Good,” replied Willis. “To show you that we believe 
you and trust you, we are going to give you guns. Bob, 
break open that box of Winchesters and give them each 
one and a belt of ammunition. Give Pedro an auto- 
matic, too; he knows how to use it. The others are 
safer without them. Now, fellows, watch your step. We 
are in a bad country. The Indians here are head- 
hunters to a man and most of them are cannibals to 
boot. They use devilish poisoned arrows, a scratch from 
which means sudden and unpleasant death. Keep your 
eyes open and don’t start hostilities, but if they are 
started, shoot and shoot quick. Keep your rifles within 
easy reach all the time and sleep with your belts on. 
Right here the stream is wde enough for us to anchor 
out of arrow-shot from either shore and no Indian will 


venture to swim it, but it will get narrower soon and 
then we’ll be up against it. Now let’s have a bite and 
turn in. We won’t set a watch tonight, but beginning 
tomorrow some one will have to be awake all the time.” 

T HE trip up the Rio Willis, as Nankivell dubbed 
it, soon developed into a veritable nightmare. The 
stream soon narrowed, as Willis had predicted it would, 
and the current grew swifter and harder to paddle 
against. This phase passed and the stream widened 
again and the current grew slower, but the shallows 
were more numerous and frequently the channel was 
almost choked with lilies and paddling was out of the 
question. For hours we were forced to pole our way up, 
and back-breaking work it was, in the steaming- heat 
of the tropical jungle. When night came we would be 
almost too exhausted to move, and yet one of us had to 
be awake for one-quarter of the night. I believe that 
it was harder to sit under the mosquito bar smoking 
and trying to keep from dropping off to sleep lulled by 
the continuous hum of mosquitoes, than to pole the 
boat by day. 

Sixteen days passed in this manner and so far no 
sign of hostile Indians, or, indeed, of any other kind, 
had become visible. Oton and Diego took their share 
of the labor uncomplainingly and, indeed, volunteered 
to stand their share of the night watching, but this 
Willis would not allow, and Mariston backed him up in 
his decision. 

“I’d trust Pedro,” he said, “but not the others. Oton 
and Diego might possibly be all right, but Carlos is 
playing the baby every time we hit a bit of hard going 
and he wouldn’t be worth a dime as a sentinel. We’ll 
stand that part of the grief ourselves.” 

It was on- the night of the sixteenth day after leaving 
the Tapajos that we had our first unusual experience. 
My turn at guard was from nine-fifteen until eleven- 
thirty. Willis had had the first shift and he had reported 
that everything was quiet when he \v*oke me. It seemed 
to be unusually hard to keep awake that night. The 
hum of the mosquitoes was monotonous and soothing 
and several times I caught myself drowsing off. Each 
time 1 caught myself up with- a start and smoked furi- 
ously for a few minutes, but the effect of the treatment 
would pass and I would catch myself dropping off again. 

Suddenly I sat bolt upright, the chills running up 
and down my back and my hair trying to stand on end. 
I listened intently, but not a sound disturbed the night. 
I am not ordinarily given to nerves but I was simply 
stiff with terror. I felt, or seemed to feel, eyes fast- 
ened on me, boring their way into my inmost thoughts. 
Carefully I scanned the water but nothing was visible. 
I glanced at my wrist watch and then my hair rose in 
real earnest. The radium dial was glowing with a posi- 
tive flame, streamers of radiance leaping from it a full 
inch into the air. As I observed it my scientific train- 
ing came to my aid and the superstitious terrors van- 
ished. Gently I awakened Willis. 

He sprang into instant wakefulness as my hand fell 
on his shoulder and he raised his rifle as he sat up. He 
peered carefully into the darkness and then moved si- 
lently over and placed his ear questioningly against my 
lips. I shook my head and showed him the watch. His 
gasp was plainly audible and I saw Pedro’s form rise in 
the darkness, rifle in hand. 

“What is it?” whispered Willis. 


690 


AMAZING STORIES 


“Ultraviolet light from somewhere,” I replied in an 
undertone. "I felt the rays on my skin but I didn’t 
know what it was until I noticed the watch. It’s a 
purely natural thing except for the fact that there is no 
source of ultraviolet light except the sun, which is down, 
and electricity, which isn't to be expected around here. 
We might be in the neighborhood of some large and 
intensely active radioactive deposit and the breeze has 
carried the emanation to us. It would have somewhat 
the same effect.” 

"It’s uncanny whatever it is,” he muttered. “Had 
we better wake the others?” 

“There is no reason to wake them that I can see,” I 
answered. “Whatever it is, it is nothing that has any 
bearing on our safety so far as my knowledge goes. I 
woke you just because it is an unusual and interesting 
phenomenon and one that I thought you would want 
to see." 

“I’ve seen enough," he said, “to keep me from sleep- 
ing for the rest of the night. If you can sleep, go 
ahead and do it; I’ll stand the balance of your watch. 
I’m willing to face Indians or anything else that I can 
understand, but when a watch starts acting up like that, 
I’m scared, and I’m perfectly willing to admit it." 

"What’s the trouble, Ray?” came Mariston’s voice. 

“Look at your watch, Bob,” he answered. 

"Peculiar,” remarked Mariston. “Do you know what 
is causing it?” 

“Dune says it’s some sort of a radium deposit that 
the wind is bringing to us. I never saw anything like 
it before.” 

“I have seen something of the sort in France," re- 
plied Mariston, "when I was in command of the guard 
detachment around an experimental Signal Corps lab- 
oratory. They were trying some sort of a silent elec- 
trical discharge for radio transmission, and it made all 
the watches and compasses in the neighborhood act up 
just the same way.” 

“There can’t be anything of that sort here,” I an- 
swered. "Ultraviolet light will do the same thing, 
but that’s as much out of the question as high tension 
electrical discharges. I still think that it must be some 
radioactive mineral.” 

I studied the dial again and suddenly without warn- 
ing the phenomenon ceased. I gave an exclamation of 
surprise and showed the watch to Willis. 

“That’s a funny thing,” I said. “I was watching it 
when it stopped and the unusual radiance went out like 
a light bulb when the current is turned off. If it was 
radium emanation in the air that was causing it, it 
should have died out slowly. What the devil could it 
have been ?” 

“I don’t know,” replied Mariston, “but at any rate it 
has stopped and you had better get to sleep if you are 
going to be any good tomorrow. It’s about time for 
my relief, so you turn in, Dune. I’ll call you if it starts 
up again.” 

CHAPTER VI 
The Drums of Tapajos 

W HEN Nankivell aroused us the next morning 
my first glance’ was naturally at my watch. 
It was behaving quite normally, giving only 
a barely distinguishable glow in the intense darkness 


that preceded the tropical dawn. I called over to Maris- 
ton and he confirmed my observations. We discussed 
the matter at considerable length, but nothing was 
brought out that differed from what we had all observed 
the night before. We gave the problem up at length 
and started our day's grind up the stream. 

The going had been getting steadily harder for sev- 
eral days and it reached a climax that morning. The 
stream had spread out for an interminable distance on 
either side and, try as we would, we could find no chan- 
nel that held more than a few inches of water. We 
would attempt what looked like a deep channel and go 
ahead for perhaps a quarter of a mile and then we 
would ground on soft mud and have to pole our way 
laboriously back. We tried getting overboard to lighten 
the canoe, but there was apparently no bottom to the 
treacherous mud, while the leeches were so bad that it 
was evident that an hour in the infected water would 
lay one of us ont. Channel after channel we tried 
without success, but at last our perseverance was re- 
warded. We started out on a path through the lilies 
that looked no different from a dozen others that we 
had tried, but for an hour we. forged ahead. 

“This channel is taking us rather too close to the 
bank for my peace of mind,” remarked Willis. 

“The closer the better,” I replied. "I haven’t been 
out of this boat for over twenty-four hours and I’ll 
welcome a chance to stretch my legs.” 

“Maybe so, but all the same I'd feel better out of 
arrow-shot from shore,” he said. “That business about 
the watches last night has got me worried. There 
may be Indians around here after all.” 

“Yes, I expect so,” I laughed. “Indians with high 
tension electrical apparatus capable of affecting a watch 
dial at a distance of two miles. 

“I don’t know.” he answered doggedly, “when you 
have lived under the equator as long as I have, you'll 
be ready to believe almost anything. I've heard some 
pretty queer stories about the magicians and wizards 
that live, in this country and I wouldn’t be surprised at; 
much of anything.” 

The bank which we were approaching was appar- 
ently solid ground, quite different from the muck of 
swamp which had surrounded us for the preceding two 
days. It looked quite soft but firm enough to bear our 
weight without our sinking knee deep in mud and we 
headed for it. We were almost to the shore when we 
suddenly stopped paddling and sat frozen to our seats 
in terror. From the shore ahead of us came a cry that 
was a scream and yet not a scream. It started on a low 
note, but rose rapidly to a shrill shriek and suddenly 
ended in a bubbling grunt as though the throat of the 
screamer had been cut while the note was at its highest 
pitch. For a moment none of us spoke. Nankivell 
recovered first. 

•“Sounded like he broke a blood vessel on that yell,” 
he remarked lightly. “I hope so, at any rate. It’ll 
save me the trouble of giving him some voice culture." 

“What was it?” I asked. 

“I don’t know,” replied Willis. “Maybe the Indians 
can tell us.” 

Pedro and the others professed ignorance of the 
author of the cry, but I thought that they were lyiug. 
They looked too scared and I rather suspected that they 
had an idea. 

“It was probably a bird,” went on Wfilis. “The 


THE DRUMS OF TAPAJOS 


691 


smallest birds here usually have the worst voices. Did 
you recognize it. Bob ?” 

"I never heard anything like it,” Mariston replied, 
"but I fancy that it was a monkey caught by a snake. 
They sometimes give off queer noises when something 
like that happens.” 

“At any rate, I’m going to go ashore and investigate,” 
announced Nankivell. 

"Better not, Frank,” I counseled. "It might be some- 
thing dangerous.” 

“There couldn’t be any greater danger to me than 
having to listen to that voice again,” he replied. “Re- 
gardless of what it is, we might as well go on and see 
what there is to it. If we are going to get scared every 
time we hear a strange noise, we might as well quit 
and go home.” 

"You’re right there, youngster,” said Willis. “The 
only thing to do is to go ahead and find out what it 
was. You and I will go while the rest_ cover our re- 
treat with the rifles if it should turn out to be necessary. 
Come on, let me go a few feet ahead and keep your 
rifle ready.” 

The pair disappeared into the jungle and were gone 
for about ten minutes. We had just begun to get un- 
easy when Nankivell reappeared on the bank in a state 
of great excitement. 

"Come along, Dune,” he cried, “and you too, Bob. 
There's something in here that beats everything that I 
have ever seen and Willis wants your advice.” 

Mariston and I hurried ashore to him. 

"Go ahead as quietly as you can," he said. "Follow 
me and keep your guns ready. We don’t know just 
what we are going into.” 

We followed him for about two hundred yards in- 
land and found Willis standing on the banks of a pool 
of stagnant water. Silently he pointed to the ground 
before him. There was a footprint, so fresh that the 
water was still oozing into it. It was such a footprint 
as I had seen many a time in fossil rocks but had never 
dreamed of seeing fresh. It was fully two feet long 
and in shape resembled the footprint of a giant frog 
with three distinct huge claws in front. Judging from 
the depth of the impression, the animal who made it 
must have weighed at least a ton. 

"Did you ever see anything like that. Bob?” asked 
Willis. 

Mariston whistled softly through his teeth. 

"Not fresh,” he replied. “I saw sonic rather like it 
in Surinam once, but they were a' little smaller and 
several days old. Have you ever run into them?" 

"Once,” said Willis. "That was up the Rio Sao 
Manoel ott das Trcs Barras beyond Manoel Cardoso. 
My guide showed them to me and told me that they 
were made by the Guardian of the Jungle. I tried to 
pump him but that was all that I could get out of him. 
He told me that no one had ever seen the Guardian 
and lived to tell of it. What do you make of it, Dune ?’’ 

"I have seen very similar tracks in fossil rocks of the 
later Jurassic period,” I replied, “but they were larger 
and the claws were less firmly marked. If it weren’t 
impossible I would say that it belonged to one of the" 
lesser carnivorous dinosaurs, but they are extinct long 
ago.” 

“I’m not so sure of that,” said Mariston. “I've seen 
and heard some darned funny things in the tropical 
jungles. How do you know that they are extinct?” 


"At least they have never been seen or reported,” I 
replied. 

“They have been reported a dozen times or more,” 
said Willis, "but since no sample was forthcoming your 
scientific men laughed at the reports. If you don’t be- 
lieve me, just try to convince a college professor of 
what we have seen today, when you get back. At any 
rate, I think the best thing for us to do is to take to 
the boats and go on. From the looks of his footprints 
that baby wouldn’t be a pleasant customer to tackle.” 

"Let’s look around a bit and see if we can’t locate 
him,” objected Nankivell. “I’d like to get a shot at 
him. You promised us some shooting, and the biggest 
thing I have shot since I have been on this trip has 
been a ring-tailed monkey.” 

“I’m afraid that your Springfield wouldn't quite be 
equal to that fellow, Frank,” I said. "By all that we 
are able to tell from reconstructions that have been 
made, their nervous organization must have been of 
quite a low order, and it would take more than a hun- 
dred and fifty grain jacketed bullet to make him know 
that he’d been hit. We had better get on while we can." 

We made our way back to the canoes in a chastened 
frame of mind and started on. Our luck in finding a 
channel had deserted us, for the line we had been fol- 
lowing came to a dead stop in shallow water within a 
mile. Again and again we tried what looked like an 
opening, only to be stopped by shoals and mud. 

“It looks like we were at the end of our boat trip," 
said Mariston at length. 

“I’m afraid so," replied Willis. “I have been rather 
expecting this for the last two days as the stream got 
shallower and more spread out. We are fortunate in 
having firm ground ahead of us and we had better try 
it. I hate to leave the boats for we can’t carry much 
on our backs, but I believe it’s the best thing that we 
can do.” 

“We might go back a way and try another route," 
I suggested. 

"I don’t think that it would be of much use, Dune," 
he’ answered. “I know these rivers pretty well, and 
when they start to play out like this they are about 
done. We might worry ahead for a* few more miles, 
but when we were stopped again we might not find hard 
ground ahead of us. The best thing for us to do is to 
take this high stretch and try to follow it. Let’s eat a 
bite and turn in for a siesta. This evening we can make 
up our packs and tomorrow we’ll be all ready to start 
out." 

I WAS dog-tired when I lay down after our lunch, 
which we washed down with chlorinated water, but 
I couldn't get to sleep. The events of the night before, 
and especially that blood-curdling yell and the tracks 
which we had seen, preyed on my mind and effectually 
prevented sleep from coming. In the bow of our canoe 
I saw Pedro busily engaged in telling his beads while 
Willis sat on guard. Suddenly Pedro dropped his beads 
and turned an ashen face toward Willis. 

“Sehor Ray,” he gasped, "you hear? The drums! 
Madre dc Dios, the drums!” 

I strained my ears. For a moment I could hear noth- 
ing and then I felt, rather than heard, a vibration i« the 
air. Slight as it was, it served to disturb the occupants 
of the other boat, and .1 saw Maristdn rouse himself 
and sit up, rifle in hand. From an immense distance it 


692 


AMAZING STORIES 


must have come and yet it seemed to be sounding be- 
side me, or rather from inside me. It was not ordinary 
drumming, nor even the throb of tom-toms such as I had 
heard at Bacabal. It was different. Pedro’s descrip- 
tion sprang into my mind: “It was the sound of such 
drums as the devils beat when they have a human in 
their power.” I glanced at Willis and saw beads of 
sweat standing out on his forehead like jewels. 

“The drums, by God !” he exclaimed hoarsely. “They 
are just as I heard them two years ago. What are 
they, Dune?” 

“It’s a new one on me,” I replied. “It might be some 
sort of atmospheric disturbance, but then ” 

"Atmospheric tommyrot,” cried Nankivell, “it’s In- 
dians coming. Get your guns ready, boys. Keep your 
powder dry and don’t shoot until you see the whites 
of their eyes.” 

“Shut up, Frank,” said Mariston shortly. "All you 
fellows, above all, don’t shoot at anything until Ray 
or I give the word. We are within easy arrow shot of 
the bank and we don’t want to start anything that we 
can’t finish. Ray, is it tom-toms ?” 

“No, Scnor,” interrupted Pedro, “it is the drums, 
the drums of Tapajos. For years I have known that 
some day I must hear them again. My life is forfeit 
to the great wizard for I spoke when his commands were 
silence. Ah, Seiior Frank, why did you not listen 
to me?” 

The drums were getting steadily more pronounced but 
not apparently much louder. It is hard for me to ex- 
plain to anyone just how. they sounded, but it was not 
like a common noise. Rather it was a vibration that 
hammered on the tympanum of the ear with vicious 
force, the blows getting harder and harder with each 
stroke, although no real noise could be heard. Stopping 
the ears served merely to intensify it as I soon found 
out. Willis raised his head and spoke slowly and de- 
liberately with an effort. 

“Listen to me, everybody. I have heard this before 
and so has Pedro, and so far it has always heralded 
sudden death. Maybe it is sounding now 1 for one of 
us and maybe it is for all of us. At any rate, not a 
man must fire until either Bob or I give the word. We 
can see nothing to shoot at and a shot may draw an 
attack that will pass us by if we are passive. Remember, 
as you value your lives, don’t shoot !” 

Stronger and stronger grew the blows on my ear 
drums until it seemed that I must scream with agony. 
Suddenly the pounding rose to a crescendo and then 
came a gentle whisper of outside sound. It was the 
first time that I had heard that whish, but I instinct- 
ively ducked and glanced around. A brightly feathered 
arrow struck the water with a plop some distance 
from us. 

“Don’t shoot,” shouted Willis, "that was never meant 
to hit, it was sent as a warning. Lower your guns. 
Carlos! DROP THAT GUN!” 

He lunged at Carlos but he was too late. Our brag- 
gadocio hero's nerves had given way and with a cry he 
raised his Winchester and fired twice into the jungle 
before Willis could wrest the weapon from him at 
imminent risk of upsetting the canoe and precipitat- 
ing us all into the water. Willis drew back with the 
gun and Carlos straightened up in the bow. Again 
came that keen whisper of sound and a faint red streak 
appeared on Carlos’ cheek. He raised his hand to the 


cut and stared as though hypnotized at the blood. Pedro 
crossed himself and muttered rapidly. 

Carlos stared at the blood for a moment and then 
his limbs began a curious twitching as though he had 
suddenly been connected with the poles of a galvanic 
battery. More and more pronounced grew the twitch- 
ing until froth broke from his lips and his face drew 
up in a horrible grimace of pain. Backward he bent 
as though a bow-string were fastened to his head and 
feet and into the muddy water he went. The mud 
was viscous and deep and only a trail of bubbles came 
up to show us where our boatman was buried. As he 
struck the water the drumming ceased. 

I looked around. Pedro, on his knees, was telling 
his beads with feverish rapidity. Willis was staring at 
the spot where Carlos had disappeared, an expression 
of horror frozen on his face. Diego and Oton were 
cowering in the bottom of the canoe, their faces buried 
in their hands. Mariston and Nankivell were alert and 
rifle in hand, were eagerly scanning the jungle from 
whence had come the deadly arrow. I reached over 
and touched Willis on the shoulder. 

“Don’t shoot,” he cried as he saw the threatening 
attitude of Mariston and Nankivell. “That first arrow 
was never intended to hit and the second was aimed at 
Carlos in retaliation for the shots he fired. Back water 
and let’s get out of range and talk this over.” 

We forced the canoes over the mud until we were 
out of arrow range from shore and then held a council 
of war. 

“I brought you fellows into this,” said Willis, “and 
now it’s up to you to decide whether you have had 
enough or not. We have met the Indians and they 
are as bad as I expected they would be, but we will 
probably be able to fight our way through them, if they 
are just ordinary Indians. I am free to confess that 
that devil-drumming, coupled with the way our watches 
acted up last night, has broken my nerve. I’ll go ahead 
if you say so, because I am not given to backing out 
of anything I start, but my advice is to light out for 
home and do it quick. There is more here than I feel 
able to fight against.” 

“That drumming was a little uncanny,” replied Mar- 
iston, “but there is nothing supernatural about it. It 
is just some kind of a trick of throwing sound that these 
Indians have learned, and I, for one, refuse to be fright- 
ened by it. Duncan here can probably explain it with- 
out any trouble if you give him time to think it over. 
My vote is to go ahead.” 

“I am going ahead,” said Nankivell positively. “No 
bunch of Indians or any other sort of people can drum 
me out of town. Since they shot Carlos, to my mind 
it’s open war and I mean to make it a war of extermin- 
ation. The rest of you can do as you please. I’m 
going on.” 

“Of course, if you go, I’ll go, Frank,” said Mariston. 

“I’ll stick with you, of course," said Willis, “but I’ll 
tell you right now that I expect to have my head dried 
in a grass hut before I am many days older. That 
needn’t stop you from going back if you want to, Dune. 
We are going to have to leave the boats anyway, and 
you can have one if you want it.” 

“Don’t talk nonsense,” I said abruptly. Frankly I 
wanted to turn back, and I would have cast my vote 
for a precipitate retreat had I been given the oppor- 
tunity, but I didn’t get it, and so I figured that I might 


THE DRUMS OF TAPAJOS 


693 


as well act as though I wanted to go. "Of course I’m 
going with you, but what about the boatmen?” 

"I go with Sehor Frank until I pay my debt,” said 
Pedro quietly. 

Diego and Oton spoke together in their own tongue 
and the former answered for both of them. 

“Seiior Ray, you bear a charmed life. So does Pedro 
and so may the white Sehores, but Oton and I do not. 
So long as you stay on the river, we go with you, but 
when you go into the jungle, if you allow, we return.” 

“From what Pedro told me of his last trip here you 
haven’t much chance of seeing Bacabal again,” replied 
Willis. "If you want to go and try to make it back, 
my blessing on you. Once we leave the canoes your 
services are not needed. Even if we were going on in 
them, since Carlos is gone, one canoe would hold with 
comfort the five of us who would be left. We'll make 
up our packs and leave a little stuff in one canoe and 
you can load the rest into the other canoe and start 
west with it. If you get to Itaituba alive deliver the 
stuff to Don Esteban Guzman and tell him where you 
left us and what we are going to do.” 

"All right, now that that’s settled, let’s start making 
up our packs and getting ready to go to war,” said 
Nankivell cheerfully. 

CHAPTER VII 
On Foot 

S ECURELY anchored on the mud out of arrow 
shot from shore we employed ourselves as Nanki- 
vell had suggested and sorted out our gear. The 
first question that came up was naturally what weight 
we should attempt to carry with us. My only experience 
had been with the army pack and I suggested sixty-five 
pounds as the correct weight, a suggestion that met with 
a groan from Nankivell. Mariston and Willis from the 
depths of their experience negatived my suggestion. 

“Sixty-five pounds is all right, Dune, in temperate 
weather and when you are going over decent roads,” 
said the latter, "but when you tackle jungle going you’ll 
find that you can’t stand up under it. Forty is more 
than a man can stand unless he is an unusually husky 
specimen. Thirty-five pounds is nearer right. Ten pounds 
of that will be taken up in gun and pistol which leave 
just about twenty-five pounds of impedimenta for each 
man to carry. What with pack-harness, ammunition, 
medicines, two ponchos, a mosquito bar and all the rest 
of the stuff that we don’t dare to leave behind, I am 
afraid that most of the guarana and all of the sarque will 
have to stay here.” 

"No matter what else goes, I insist on a razor,” said 
Nankivell. 

“You would," snorted Mariston. “I presume that you 
also want to carry a mirror and shaving soap.” 

"Certainly,” said Nankivell, “I’m trying to help Ray 
cut down weight." 

“How on earth is carrying a razor and junk like that 
going to help to cut down weight?” I asked. 

“George Duncan, I am surprised at you,” said Nanki- 
vell. “With your so-called scientific education, you 
should see the point at once. The average beard weighs 
fully half as much as a safety razor. When you multi- 
ply that weight by five ” 

“Oh, shut up, Frank,” interrupted Mariston, “we'll 


let you carry a razor if you insist but I’ll warn you 
that there’s no use in it. It will be love’s labor lost for 
we won’t meet any young and attractive ladies where we 
are going." 

“You can’t tell,” replied Nankivell, “I have a pre- 
monition that we will. At any rate, you three can look 
like tramps if you want to, my mother raised me to be 
neat no matter what the handicaps.” 

Besides Nankivell’s razor, mirror and soap, we 
limited our equipment to four Springfield rifles and one 
shotgun (carried by Pedro), five Colt automatic pistols, 
seventy rounds of ammunition for each gun, a compass, 
a flashlight on the generator type which required no bat- 
teries, two ponchos, one mosquito bar, a small kit of 
medicines, two canteens of one quart size, a machete, 
a pocket axe, four ounces of salt, a housewife, two 
pounds of chlorine tablets, a pocket filter, one pint of 
brandy, two extra handkerchiefs each and a few odds 
and ends that Willis and Mariston pronounced essential. 
The balance of our loads was made up of guarana and 
four pounds of sarque which we carried for emergencies. 
At the last moment Willis slipped a small monocular into 
his pocket and Nankivell added a carton of cigarettes 
and a burning glass to his load. The rest of our food 
and equipment was divided into two portions. The first 
consisting of a light load for one canoe and that was 
wrapped in oiled silk and deposited in the canoe which 
we proposed to leave at our landing place as a line of 
retreat. The balance was loaded into the second canoe 
and consigned to the care of Diego and Oton with orders 
to leave it at Itaituba in charge of Don Esteban for us in 
case we ever returned to claim it, a matter of which I, 
for one, entertained grave doubts. 

The loads were made up well before nightfall and as 
soon as the packing was completed, Diego and Oton 
climbed into their canoe and with many frightened 
glances behind them and with many invocations to the 
saints and to the jungle Gods, they turned the head of 
the craft downstream and left us. What happened to 
them we never learned. Aside from one brief glance 
which was vouchsafed us later, we never saw them again. 
Whatever may have happened to them, they never 
reached Itaituba, or if they did, they never delivered 
our goods to Don Esteban. Whether they sleep in the 
mud of an unnamed tropical river or whether their heads 
are drying in the huts of the Indians, or whether the 
promise of sudden wealth proved too great a temptation 
for their honesty and on reaching the Tapajos they 
turned the head of their canoe south toward Manoel 
Cardoso, peace be with iheir souls. They were faithful 
servants while they served and whether faithful 
unto death or whether they live afar from our pur- 
view, it matters not at this late day. 

The five of us who were left settled ourselves for the 
night in our remaining canoe, resolving to enjoy a dry 
bed for at least one more night, for both Willis and 
Mariston warned us that it might be our last for some 
time. The night passed quietly and without interruptions 
and we could hardly believe that it was daylight when 
Mariston, who had the last relief, called us. We ate a 
hearty breakfast, feasting for the last time on the tinned 
delicacies that we had brought with us and then with 
cheerful faces, although I expect that the cheerful out- 
side demeanors hid more quaking hearts than mine, we 
poled our canoe slowly and laboriously to the bank and 
debarked. Before leaving it, we drew it well up on the 


694 


AMAZING STORIES 


bank and covered it with palm fronds in the hope of 
finding it later when we needed it. 

“This is largely a waste of time,” remarked Willis 
as we did so. “The termites will have it eaten up in two 
weeks, but it will make us feel better anyway. I didn’t 
think, when we left Bacabal, that we might have to 
abandon it or I would' have got canoes made of maho- 
gany, the nearest termite-proof wood, there is, but I 
didn’t and so we'll have to do with what we have. We 
probably will never find it again anyway, so it don’t 
much matter. Well, forward march and the devil take the 
hindmost !” 

“Lead on, MacDuff,” proclaimed Nankivell. “Tell 
mother that I died game and that the one bit of wisdom 
that I have gathered during a short and sinful life is that 
it isn’t safe to count on the seven showing up more than 
six times in a row.” 

The road through the jungle proved to be even more 
difficult than Willis had prophesied. For the first two 
hours the path was dry and fairly open, requiring only 
short detours to hold our direction, but as the day wore 
on the ground underfoot became softer and the jungle 
became more dense and harder to break our way through. 
Pedro led the way, his Indian instinct for direction being 
considered the best guide we had, while Mariston 
brought up the rear with the marching compass on which 
he checked our course every half mile. 

The heat was terrible. I had thought that it was about 
as hot as the human constitution could stand on the river 
but by comparison, the river trip had been cool and 
pleasant. Even the heat was a small matter in com- 
parison with the torture inflicted on us by the insect life. 
,The mosquitos were legion while the ticks forced us to 
stop every mile or so and pull them off one another be- 
fore going on. Only Pedro seemed to be exempt from 
them. Whether his skin was too leathery or whether 
they all left him for the more appetizing odor of the 
white man, I don't know, but it is a fact that none of 
them got on him. Willis told me that the Indians were 
never bothered with thenf and that that was why they 
could live in a jungle that would kill off a white man 
in a few weeks. The leeches were bad too, but they only 
bothered us when we went into water and after wading 
a few streams we learned to stop on the farther side 
and pick them off our legs before going on. 

T HE road got worse and worse. The jungle was so 
thick by mid-afternoon that it was necessary to keep 
a man with a machete in front to cut the lianas before 
the rest of us could make our way forward. I don't 
believe that we made over eight miles in the whole day 
before we were forced by sheer weariness to halt for the 
night. Fortunately we found a fairly high spot that 
was comparatively dry under foot and were not forced 
to sleep in six inches of water, an occurrence that Willis 
assured us was not uncommon in jungle travel. 

“Is it really necessary to mount a guard tonight?” 
asked Nankivell, when we halted. 

“We really ought to,” replied Willis. “Remember we 
were attacked only a few miles from here, but we haven’t 
seen or heard anything of Indians all day and I am in- 
clined to let the guard slide for tonight. The Indians can 
see like cats and if they really want to bump us off, they 
can do it without danger to themselves and the most that 
we could hope to do would be to take a few of them 
along with us. We are all so tired that I doubt whether 


the one who was put on guard could stay awake. What 
do you think about it Pedro?” 

“I am a dead man already and dead men should not 
speak,” replied our Indian friend. “For myself, I can 
stay awake, but whether I could hear an enemy approach 
I cannot say. My hearing has been blunted by the sound 
of the drums. It is better that we all sleep and if we go 
to the Great Spirit that we go refreshed and not with 
the sand of sleep heavy in our eyes. What says Sehor 
Bob?" 

“We might as well get a good night’s sleep and take 
a chance at it,” said Mariston. “Personally I feel like 
Pedro does. I doubt if I would be of any value as a 
guard, even if I could stay awake, and if we have to go 
west, let’s go rested up like gentlemen.” 

“Amen,” said Nankivell. “Like Willis, I crave sleep. 
Let’s eat a bite and go beddie-bye with a clear conscience 
and trust to Lady Luck to do her stuff.” 

None of us awoke until it was broad daylight. Nanki- 
vell was the first to wake and his whoop brought the 
rest of us up instantly. 

“Look at me !” he cried. “I’m poisoned ! I’ve got scar- 
let fever, measles, hives and mumps all in one.” 

I laughed as I glanced at him. His face was as red as a 
beet and was swollen into lumps like mosquito bites and 
this despite the fact that we had slept under our bar. 
In addition he had several globules hanging on his face 
that looked like small grapes. I laughed at his condition 
but the effort of stretching my face revealed to me that 
my condition was no better. Mariston and Willis were 
similarly afflicted as was Pedro in a lesser degree. Willis 
solved the mystery. 

“Those purple affairs are just ticks full of blood,” he 
said. “Pedro will show you how to take them off 
without leaving the head in your skin. The red lumps 
are chiggers. They will itch like the devil for a few days 
and then fester, that is if you leave them alone. They’ll 
fester at once if you scratch them. Leave it to Pedro; 
he’ll fix you up.” 

The itching was almost intolerable and the tempta- 
tion to pull off the filthy ticks was almost more than I 
could resist but I knew that Willis had had more experi- 
ence in tropical jungles than I had and I waited with 
what patience I could muster while Pedro left us and 
scouted around in the nearby jungle. He soon returned 
with some roots and some branches bearing leaves and 
berries. The berries he crushed and touched the ticks 
with the juice. The effect was marvelous. The insects 
promptly withdrew from us and releasing their hold, fell 
on the ground before us. The raw wounds that were 
left Pedro dressed with the chewed-up leaves which 
promptly stopped the bleeding and relieved the smarting 
almost instantly. The roots he cut into slices and told 
us to rub our chigger welts with them. This relieved 
the itching to a great extent and insured us against the 
welts festering, according to Pedro. He spoke the truth 
for none of us was bothered with any festering except 
one on Nanki veil’s shoulder that he neglected to rub. 
This gave him a little trouble later, but nothing serious. 

Once our bites were doctored to an extent that we 
were able to think of something besides how they itched, 
we turned our attention to breakfast. This was, per- 
force, a rather sketchy affair but we did justice to the 
scanty fare which our packs provided and after smok- 
ing one each of Nanki veil's precious cigarettes, we were 
ready to start our grind again. 


THE DRUMS OF TAPAJOS 


695 


The morning was a repetition of the first day. Toward 
noon the going began to get a little easier and we found 
the dense jungle giving way to somewhat more open 
ground. 

“We are getting away from the river and the swamps 
that surround it and upon a little higher ground/’ said 
Willis in explanation. "Pedro thinks that by night we 
will hit fairly good going although I think that he’s a 
little too optimistic. This is an improvement over yester- 
day and we ought to make fairly good time this after- 
noon even if we can’t see twenty feet ahead. It is about 
eleven now and I think we had better stop for a bite and 
a siesta before long. I’m ready to stop right now if the 
rest of you are." 

We were more than ready to rest and we thankfully 
unslung our packs and threw our tired bodies on the 
ground. Pedro busied himself about his daily task of 
securing our food. The supply of guarana was small and 
had to be carefully husbanded so he left us and strode 
forth into the jungle with the shotgun in search of some- 
thing edible. He found no game but he returned shortly 
with some fruit and edible tubers on which we lunched 
and then took our siesta, leaving Mariston on guard. 

Pedro’s prediction of easier going was borne out and 
by nightfall the jungle was much more open and we 
found that we had covered about thirteen miles during 
the day. The following day we made eight miles before 
lunch but the ground began to get softer under foot ami 
by nightfall we were almost in a morass with only three 
miles to our credit since noon. 

"I don't like this,” said Willis. “We are getting into 
worse ground every hour and we may have to retrace 
our steps. However we’ll stick on in the same direction 
for a while tomorrow and see what happens.” 

The morning of the fourth day brought a little im- 
provement and by noon we were back on fairly hard 
ground although the jungle was unusually dense and we 
could not sec ten feet into its thickness. We found a little 
open space under a mahogany tree and threw ourselves 
down to rest while Pedro made his daily foraging trip 
for food. 

He had been gone for perliaps five minutes when a 
sound broke in on the comparative stillness that brought 
us to our feet with a jerk. Far away and distant it was 
but it was unmistakable. No one who had heard the 
blood-curdling scream that had greeted us on the river 
bank four days before would ever mistake that sound 
for anything else. With blanched faces we gripped our 
rifles and stared at the jungle, expecting every moment 
that some monstrous horror would burst forth. 

“Where is Pedro?” asked Nankivell anxiously. 

Again came the scream, this time perceptibly nearer 
than it had been before. 

, “It’s closer,” I said, feeling that I must break the 
silence that had grip|>ed us. 

“Worse than that,” replied Willis. “The thing, what- 
ever it is, is following our trail.” 

My face blanched as a fresh scream testified to the 
truth of Willis’ observation. It was very evident that the 
sound was approaching along the route we had traversed 
that morning. There was a rustle in the jungle and Pedro 
joined us, his swarthy face almost chalklike with terror. 

The Guardian of tlic Jungle he gasped as he joined 
us. “Schorcs, pray to whatever Gods you worship, for 
the man lives, not who has looked on the Guardian’s 
face.” 


• “Is he that homely?” asked Nankivell with what was 
evidently a forced attempt at his usual tone of light 
banter. 

“Schor Frank, no one knows,” replied Pedro solemnly. 
“His voice is known to many, his tracks to few and his 
face to none who lives.” 

"What is it, Pedro, a devil or a wizard or just an 
animal ?” asked Mariston. 

‘'Schor Bob, his voice you hear and his tracks you 
have seen,” said Pedro, "and what he is, you know as 
well as your servant. Schor Dune is said to know every- 
thing; can he not answer your question?” 

“From the footprints I would judge it to be a small 
carnivorous dinosaur,” I replied. “If I am right, we 
had better scatter out a little so that some of us may have 
a chance. If we bunch up he can get us all, but if we get 
far enough apart we may be able to pump enough bullets 
into him to stop him while some of us are alive to tell 
what he looks like.” 

Again the hideous voice sounded on the jungle air. It 
was quite a bit nearer this time and any lingering hope 
that we may have held that the author of that cry was 
not following our trail was dispelled as we gauged the 
direction from which the noise came. Once I had named 
a tangible enemy and suggested a way to combat it, 
Nankivell’s spirits rose like magic. 

“Come ahead, Caruso,” he called gaily, “you need 
some singing lessons and old buddy Springfield is just 
the man to give them to you. Dune, you know his an- 
cestors, don’t you think that a few pills in his throat will 
help his voice?” 

"You had better shoot at his heart,” I replied drily, 
“and let his head and throat alone. His brain is probably 
so small that even a dead shot like you aren't, couldn't 
hit it, and he probably wouldn’t have sense enough to 
know that he was dead, even if you hit the brain square. 
Don’t you think that we had better scatter, Bob?” 

"I don’t know what to say,” replied Mariston. “The 
jungle is so thick that he might easily finish us off one at 
a time without the rest getting a chance to fire a shot. 

I think that a skirmish line about ten feet apart is the 
best formation. When he appears, let everyone close up 
enough to get a good shooting target and pump lead at 
his heart as fast as you can work your bolts. I’ll hold the 
center here and two of you cut off to each side. It’s too 
bad that there aren't a few good high trees that are slim 
enough for us to climb." 

CHAPTER VIII 
The Guiding Arrows 

W E spread out as Mariston had suggested and 
waited with bated breath. I don’t know how the 
rest felt but my heart was going like a trip ham- 
mer and I entertained serious doubts as to my ability 
to hit the side of a barn if it had appeared suddenly 
before me. Again the horrible scream sounded, not over 
a quarter of a mile away, so close in fact that the pe- 
culiar bubbling grunt that ended it was plainly audible. 
Nankivell, who was literally dancing in his excitement, 
threw back his head and emitted a wailing screech that 
was a very passable imitation of the voice of the Guar- 
dian. Willis turned toward him angrily but before he 
could speak another sound was heard that claimed our 
attention. Soft and distant and sounding as though it; 


696 


AMAZING STORIES 


was coming from the interior of the hearer’s head came 
the sound of the drums. 

Pedro howled and threw himself face down on the 
earth. The rest of us stood immobile while louder and 
louder, or rather, more and more intense grew that ham- 
mering in our ears. I tried vainly to stop my ears 
against it with my fingers but that device served merely 
to intensify the thudding and I withdrew my fingers. 
Recalled suddenly to my senses, I grasped my rifle and 
looked for the enemy that we were expecting. He was 
nowhere in sight and his vioce was for the moment 
silent. Insensibly we abandoned our plan of defence and 
drew closer together. 

As suddenly as it had begun, the drumming stopped 
and again rose the wail of our pursuer, but this time it 
was beyond us. As though it had stopped merely to allow 
us to hear the howl of the Guardian, the drums again 
started their maddening throbbing but this time in a more 
subdued tempo so that over their voice we could hear 
our enemies in the jungle. The howl was repeated from 
behind us and was at once answered by another before 
us. We exchanged frightened glances and again the 
howls sounded. This time there were three separate 
cries and we could hear heavy bodies moving in the 
jungle. It was evident that our pursuers were circling 
around us perhaps two hundred yards away in the 
dense jungle. 

“I expect that the brutes are working up an appetite 
for dinner,” said Nankivell with a game attempt at non- 
chalance. “It’s too bad that the old bird, who located 
us, called his friends to help him out. From what Dune 
says, the five of us would just make a good meal for 
him.” 

“I’ll feel better when the attack commences,” said 
Willis with a wry smile, “this waiting gets my goat. 
Dune, do you suppose that the brutes who are doing 
that yelling are responsible for that damnable drum- 
ming ?” 

“They might be,” I replied, “but it hardly seems 
plausible. That drumming is more likely a wave motion 
of some frequency that we ” 

“Dune,” interrupted Nankivell, “I can almost be re- 
signed to sudden and painful death if you will just post- 
pone your scientific lecture until it is over. Man, don’t 
theorize now, you’ll soon have all eternity to do it in.” 

“Quit your squabbling, you two fools,” said Mariston 
severely. “Keep your eyes on the jungle and your minds 
on your guns. What was that ?” 

“That” was the keening whish of an arrow that passed 
between Mariston apd mysel f and struck with a dull thud 
in the ground some distance away. Pedro looked up 
suddenly at the sound and as he saw the arrow called to 
us to drop flat. We obeyed him and scrambled around 
into a rough circle so that we covered with our rifles 
every direction. 

“What a time for those benighted savages to pick for 
an attack,” complained Nankivell. “It seems to me that 
they had better join forces with us instead of shooting 
at us considering what’s loose in the jungle.” 

"For once you are wrong, Duncan,” exclaimed 
Mariston. 

“How so?” I asked. 

“There are no carnivorous dinosaurii loose in this 
jungle or you can bet your bottom dollar that our friends, 
the arrow shooters, would be scarce and making them- 
selves scarcer,” he replied. “These boys can be killed by 


a bullet placed in any one of several locations. Keep your 
eyes peeled in earnest, but don’t shoot unless you are 
sure of a hit. We haven’t any ammunition to spare." 

Vigilantly we scanned the jungle. The drumming 
which had subsided into a mere whisper grew slowly 
more pronounced and threatening. Threatening is not 
the right word to describe it, more hopeless would be 
better. It had the peculiar psychological effect of de- 
pressing the stimuli greatly and engendering a feeling 
of absolute helplessness and despondency. As the drum- 
ming grew more evident to our sense of hearing the utter 
hopelessness of the fight that we were making against 
almost insurmountable obstacles and against unknown 
foes bore in on me. I felt like throwing down my rifle 
and bursting into tears. 

Again came the whisk of an arrow and the missile 
buried itself in the ground about six inches ahead of 
Willis’ head. Another and another flew through the air, 
striking almost in the same spot, but an inch or two 
nearer Willis. He grunted and drew back a foot. 
Another arrow flew, this time striking only a few inches 
ahead of where his shoulder was after the move. He 
drew back again and an arrow struck dangerously 
close to me. I hastily joined Willis in his retrograde 
movement and another pair of arrows drove us still 
farther back. We were almost on top of Nankivell and 
Mariston, in front of whom no arrows had fallen. 

“Move ahead a bit, will you?” said Willis, “the beg- 
gars are getting our range here.” 

The whole circle moved forward a few feet. While 
we were moving no arrows fell but as soon as the move- 
ment stopped again came the shrill whish and an arrow 
plumped into the ground a few inches from my new po- 
sition. Willis studied it and sprang suddenly to his feet. 

“Get up, fellows,” he said. “Those arrows weren't 
shot to hit. If they had been. Dune and I would have 
gone to the happy hunting ground long ago. They are 
merely warnings to us to move on in a certain direction. 
Get up and move ahead in the direction they want us to 
go and I'll wager there won't be another one fired.” 

Nankivell and Mariston demurred, but I joined Willis 
in insisting that we try his plan. They had not been 
under fire and could not appreciate our feelings but in 
view of our insistency they agreed to try it. Their de- 
cision was marvelously strengthened by an arrow that 
struck the ground between them, the only one that was 
fired while we were arguing. We got slowly to our feet 
and, as Willis had predicted, no arrows were fired. 

“We might as well take our kit,” remarked Mariston 
as he stooped down and picked up his pack. The rest 
of us followed suit and stood in a group undecided as to 
which direction we should go. With the beginning of 
the arrow attack the howling in the jungle had ceased, 
but the undertone of steady drumming had gone on 
without intermission. . 

“Which way shall we go?” I asked. 

"Try any way,” replied Willis. “If we start out on the 
wrong direction an arrow will soon tell us so.” 

“We had better head off to the right,” said Mariston. 
“The last howls we heard showed nothing in that di- 
rection.” 

O NE way was as good as another, so with Willis 
in the lead, we started off. 

"Hello, we’re on a trail,” he exclaimed in surprise 
after we had gone a few feet. We looked down and there 


THE DRUMS 

was no doubt but that he was right. It was a very faint 
trail, but it was none the less evident that feet of some 
sort had trodden that way before us. The trail soon bent 
off sharply to the left and Willis followed it. For half 
a mile we were not molested. At that point the trail split 
and branched off in two directions. We halted and 
studied it for a moment and then Willis took the left- 
hand path. Instantly there sounded that now familiar 
whisk and an arrow streaked through the air before 
his face. 

“Wrong road,” he said drily and turned back and took 
the right-hand path. There was no impediment to our 
progress in that direction and we forged steadily ahead. 
The trail was rough but entirely practicable and we made 
good time. The jungle grew denser and denser and but 
for the path, we could have scarcely forced our way 
through it The trail turned and twisted continually 
and we soon lost all track of direction. The jungle over- 
head was so dense that not a ray of light filtered down 
to us and even Mariston who carried the compass soon 
confessed that he had no idea of what direction we were 
from our starting point. For two hours we forged 
steadily ahead and then Willis stopped with a gasp. 

"What is it?” asked Mariston from the rear of the 
column. 

“Either I have gone crazy or we are learning some- 
thing that no one ever suspected." he replied. “There is 
a road ahead and what’s more, it’s paved." 

“What?" cried Mariston incredulously. 

“It’s paved as sure as I’m a foot high,” replied Willis 
positively. 

We crowded forward. There was no doubt about it. 
The trail we were following was intersected almost at 
right angles by the road, perhaps ten feet wide, that was 
paved with a gray substance somewhat resembling con- 
crete. We looked at one another with awed faces and 
Willis spoke in great excitement. 

“We’re on the right trail, all right,” he said. “The 
same men who made that knife made that road as sure 
as I’m standing here.” 

“It sounds plausible,” said Mariston. “At any rate, 
scorn not the gifts that the Gods provide. I’ll be glad 
to get some decent walking again. What is that pave- 
ment, concrete ?” 

I advanced to the road and knelt down, but I could 
hardly believe the evidence of my senses. The road had 
all the appearance of concrete, but it most decidedly was 
not built of rock or anything of the sort. It was firm to 
the touch, but it had a certain indefinable yielding quality 
that we are accustomed to associate with but one thing. 

“I believe that it’s paved with some compound of rub- 
ber,” I announced. 

The rest laughed, but their laughter was changed to 
amazement when they, in turn, examined it. 

“It does feel like rubber,” admitted Mariston. “It is 
not as surprising as it might be. I am enough surprised 
at finding a road here at all that it might be paved with 
ice-cream and not astonish me much more than the road 
itself does. Well, we can’t stop here and worry about it 
too long, our guides may get impatient. Which direction 
shall we try?” 

Nankivell put his fingers to his lips and emitted a 
shrill whistle. 

“Taxi 1” he shouted, 

“Oh, shut up, Frank,” I exclaimed testily. That con- 


OF TAPAJOS 697 

founded drumming had got on my nerves. “Don’t make 
an egregious ass of yourself.” 

“Ass, nothing,” retorted Nankivell. “Where there is a 
road like this, there is a taxi, or I miss my guess as to 
Henry Ford's enterprise. Let’s wait for it.” 

“Quit squabbling and come on,” said Mariston laugh- 
ingly. “We won’t wait for Frank’s taxi. I, for one, am 
glad enough to get a good road underfoot again to be 
game to walk a good many miles.” 

At a venture we turned to the right. Apparently we 
had chosen the right direction, for no warning arrow 
whished across our path. I remarked to that effect and 
Willis stopped in his tracks. 

“Maybe we have lost them,” he suggested. "There 
hasn't been an arrow for an hour.” 

He turned and started the other way. Immediately the 
drumming increased in volume and the whisk of an arrow 
in front of his face turned him to the right-about in 
short order. 

“It’s funny that we have never got a sight of those 
beggars,” he said. “It is uncanny the way they keep out 
of sight. Oh, well, they apparently don’t intend to harm 
tis as long as we obey orders. Forward march and we’ll 
see in time what it’s all about.” 

“I don't know where I’m going, but I’m on my way,” 
caroled Nankivell cheerfully as we turned our faces in 
the direction indicated by our unknown guides and 
plunged forward still farther into the unknown. 

CHAPTER IX 
Nahum 

W E trudged along the road for the best part of 
three hours. Nankivell was the only one of us 
who kept his spirits up. He whistled and sang 
alternately, varying his performance by remarks upon the 
glum appearance presented by the rest of us. Willis and 
Mariston said little. They were old soldiers of fortune 
who had learned long ago to take things as they came and 
to save their breath for emergencies. It was not Pedro’s 
way to speak unless spoken to and I was too puzzled, 
and I might as well admit, frightened, to care to talk. 
The road turned and twisted interminably so that we 
could seldom see for more than a hundred yards ahead. 
It was evident that we were going up a slight grade and, 
although the jungle hid the terrain pretty well, we could 
at times see hills ahead and expected some pretty steep 
climbing before we had gone very far. 

We turned a bend in the road and stopped. The road 
ran squarely up to the side of a hill several hundreds of 
feet high and ended abruptly at a huge copper-bound 
mahogany door. We looked at one another in doubt as 
to our future movements, but no astonishment was shown 
in any of our faces. After finding that paved road, noth- 
ing to which it might lead us could cause us any wonder. 
Nankivell walked up to the door and rapped sharply 
with his rifle butt. 

“I hope they are home,” he remarked with a comical 
air of solicitude, “it would be a shame to come all this 
distance to make them a call and then find no one in.” 

There was no response- and Nankivell hammered 
again on the mahogany barrier. We waited for a mo- 
ment, uncertain as to our future movements, when Wil- 
lis gave vent to a sudden exclamation. The door was 
moving slowly and noiselessly downward. It moved 


698 


AMAZING STORIES 


very slowly and it was perhaps thirty seconds before 
it had sunk to the level of the roadway and the path 
was clear before us. The road ran into a tunnel in 
the hill and ran in a straight line for as far as we could 
see. We looked at one another questioningly. 

“Age before beauty, gentlemen,” said Nankivell cheer- 
fully. “I suggest that Bob lead the way.” 

Mariston hesitated for a second and then stepped 
forward. 

“Come on,” he said quietly as he started, but I no- 
ticed that he slipped the safety off his rifle as he did so 
and I followed suit. We crossed the crack that held the 
door, and I noticed in parsing that it was fully eighteen 
inches thick. As we passed into the tunnel there was a 
slight scraping sound behind us and I turned quickly. 
Swift as my movement was, I was just in time to see a 
crack at the top of the door close. That huge door which 
had taken thirty seconds to open had risen into place in 
less than a second, shutting us off from the outside world 
as effectually as death itself would have done. As the 
door closed it shut off the outside light and it was as dark 
as the inside of a tomb. 

“Who has the flashlight?” 

Willis’ voice sounded preternaturally loud in that con- 
fined space. 

“I have it,” replied Mariston. “Nobody move while 
I get it out and wind it up." 

We could hear the steady rasp of the winding key, 
but before Mariston had finished winding the need for 
the light had passed. There was a flash, blinding in its 
intensity when compared to the darkness that had en- 
veloped us, and the tunnel was as light as day. I turned 
from the direction of the door to search for the source 
of the light, but my gaze was arrested by the sight that 
met my eyes. 

Before us stood a white man. He was evidently old, 
for long curling locks of intensely white hair framed a 
face that was wrinkled and ancient looking. His tall 
spare figure stood without the slightest trace of a stoop, 
and despite the appearance of age conveyed by his face, 
there was an air of strength and power about his figure 
that made me wonder. He was attired in a long white 
robe with a scarlet border which was heavily orna- 
mented with gold embroidery, and around his neck was 
a chain made of flat plates engraved with symbols of 
some sort, and from it depended a smjdl glittering sword 
of silver. He was bareheaded and on his feet were 
white sandals bound to his feet with crimson ribbons, 
heavily encrusted with gold. 

All of those details I noticed later, for at first sight 
the thing that arrested my gaze was his piercing black 
eyes, that looked out from under a nobly tall brow, and 
which seemed to be looking through me into the very 
depths of my mind itself. There was a terrible air of 
majesty about his figure and his eyes spoke eloquently 
of power. Tower was reflected, too, in his jutting jaw 
and his firm thin lips and his high-bridged hooked nose. 
Yet there was an air of kindliness and justice about him, 
too, that reassured me slightly. He stood there with 
folded arms and stared at us in silence. Nankivell re- 
covered from his surprise and found his voice first. 

“Ah, good evening. Brother Tiler,”* he exclaimed, ad- 
vancing with outstretched hand. “You see before you 
brethren froc a far distant land who seek at your hands 
the blessings of aid, relief and fraternal assistance ” 

•Doorkeeper in a Masonic lodge. 


“Shut up, Frank,” said Mariston sharply and ad- 
vanced toward the silent and immobile figure. “Do you 
understand English, sir?” 

There was not the slightest flicker of understanding 
on the majestic face and Mariston turned to Willis. 

“Try him with Spanish and Portuguese, Ray,” he said. 

Willis advanced and spoke in each of the languages 
in turn without achieving any better results than Mar- 
iston had with English. 

“You try him, Dune,” he said to me. 

I spoke to him in French, German and Italian and 
what I could remember of Latin and Greek, but with 
no apparent result. When I had finished, the unknown 
began to speak. His voice was low, clear and beauti- 
fully modulated, but the language that he used was un- 
intelligible to all of us. There was a haunting famil- 
iarity about it that I strove in vain to place but could 
not, although I was certain that I had heard speech like 
it somewhere before. When he had finished his speech 
he bowed and, motioning us to remain where we were, 
he stepped backward for a few steps and spoke, appar- 
ently to the wall. He spoke for several minutes and 
then paused, listening for a reply. Another voice an- 
swered him, apparently from the wall before him, and 
he turned again to us and apparently asked a question 
in his unknown tongue. 

“He is evidently asking who we are,” said Mariston. 
“He knows all the languages that We speak and so he 
can't really expect a reply.” 

“Something about that speech is familiar,” I said. "I 
don’t know what it is, but it sounds like one that I have 
heard somewhere. It is quite possible that he may be 
able to make out a word or two of what one of us has 
said to him. Suppose we each tell him who we are and 
how we came here in each language that we can speak. 
Possibly he can make something out of one of them. 
I’ll start it out, if you like.” 

Mariston nodded assent and I started, naming each 
one of us and relating a short outline of our travels in 
each of the languages that I could speak and essayed 
to do the same in the classical tongues, although I fear 
that I made a mess of it. When I had finished, Willis 
took up the task in Spanish and Portuguese and Mar- 
iston repeated the information in English. No trace of 
enlightenment passed over his face, but when we had 
done he looked inquiringly at Pedro. We pushed Pedro 
forward and made him tell our yarn in each of the In- 
dian dialects that he could speak. When he had fin- 
ished, the unknown looked inquiringly at us again. 

We made no reply and he was apparently satisfied 
that we were through, for he retreated again and spoke 
to the wall. The voice replied and several questions 
were asked and answers given. The information, which 
he was evidently transmitting, was apparently satisfac- 
tory, for the colloquy ended and the unknown ap- 
proached us. He took up the tiny sword that depended 
from his collar and pressed the point against the fore- 
heads of each of us except Pedro in turn. When he 
had completed the ceremony he stepped back and bowed. 

“You have permission to enter,” he said in faultless 
English. 

"Do you know English?” asked Nankivell with a 
gasp. 

“Yes, Mister Nankivell,” replied the unknown with a 
smile. “I understand English perfectly and speak it 
as well as I do my native tongue. I also understand 


THE DRUMS OF TAPAJOS 


699 


and speak the Indian dialects, Spanish, French, Portu- 
guese, Italian and German as well as the gentlemen who 
spoke them, and I believe that I speak purer and more 
fluent Latin and Greek than Mister Duncan. My reason 
for not sooner acknowledging my acquaintance with 
those languages was my desire to hear each one of you 
tell your story, in order that I might determine how far 
each of you deviated from the exact and literal truth. 
You seemed to note something that was familiar to you 
about my speech, Mister Duncan. For your enlighten- 
ment, I will inform you that it is a slight variant of 
ancient Hebrew.” 

“Well, who the dickens are you and where are we?” 
asked Nankivell. “Since you know all about us, why 
not tell us something about yourself?” 

“That is information that will be given you in due 
time if the Master so orders,” he replied. “In the 
meantime, you will follow me without questions. You 
will also leave your weapons behind you. They will not 
be needed and would be both an offense to good taste 
and a useless burden.” 

"Lay your rifles down, fellows,” said Mariston. “This 
gentleman speaks the truth.” 

"And your pistols,” replied the unknown with a smile. 
“Had harm been intended to you, you would not have 
escaped the arrows, or you could have been overcome 
in the darkness when the portal closed." 

“And your pistols,” repeated Mariston with a sheep- 
ish grin. “May I ask whom we have the honor of ad- 
dressing?” 

"My name.” he replied, “is Nahum and my rank is 
that of Warder of the Outer Gate of the Crypt. Fol- 
low me without further questions.” 

TX/’E followed him down the tunnel for about two 

»» hundred yards. At that point the tunnel stopped 
and ended abruptly in a wall of solid rock. Nahum 
stepped to one side and spoke some words in his own 
language. Knowing what it was he was speaking, I 
tried to make it out, but my knowledge of Hebrew was 
too slight for me to do so. As he finished speaking a 
section of the wall slid slowly down, giving entrance 
to a small room fitted with a number of comfortable- 
looking chairs, fastened to the floor and all facing in 
the same direction. The thickness of the rock door that 
we crossed amazed me. It was fully fifteen feet thick 
and I hastily tried to reckon the weight. 

“Be seated,” said our guide. 

We did so and the massive door closed. Nothing else 
happened for a few moments and than I was conscious 
of a slight sensation as of falling in the region of my 
stomach. 

“Are we moving?” I asked. 

“At something over two hundred miles an hour,” re- 
plied Nahum with a smile. “You probably noticed that 
we are decreasing our elevation. The grade that we are 
on is less than two per cent, but the speed at which we 
are moving gives you the sensation of falling. We will 
start up again in a few minutes and then the sensation 
will cease. I can see that you are about to ask further 
questions. Pray do not force me to the incivility of 
again refusing to answer you. All that you should know 
will be told you in due time. You may smoke if you 
like, Mister Nankivell.” 

The irrepressible Nankivell lighted a cigarette and 
puffed luxuriously, while he leaned back and whistled 


between - puffs in affected nonchalance. Fifteen minutes 
passed without an incident and then our guide rose and 
spoke again to the wall. The side of the room dropped 
and we were ushered into a corridor that was the exact 
replica of the one we had left. We followed oun guide 
for perhaps a hundred yards down it and then he paused. 
He said nothing, but he must have pressed some hidden 
lever with his foot, for another section of the tunnel 
wall slid down and we followed him into a brilliantly 
lighted room. 

It was fitted up with every luxury that could be asked 
for, a curious Oriental note being dominant in the fur- 
nishings. Our guide turned to us. 

“This will be your homo for the present,” he said. 
“You will find two bedrooms, each equipped with two 
beds for your use. Your servant will be lodged with 
others of his rank and your wants supplied by others 
of his race, who are trained in our ways. You will 
find baths and everything that is needed for your com- 
fort. When you desire servants to attend to your wants, 
face this wall and speak in a natural voice and they 
will attend promptly. Mister Nankivell, you will find 
a razor and a mirror that will be of more value to you 
than the metal mirror you have been using. Suitable 
clothing has been provided for you and your evening 
refreshment will be served in an hour. I shall do my- 
self the honor of returning and sharing your meal with 
you. In the meantime, I trust that you will be com- 
fortable. Is anything lacking to your comfort or peace 
of mind?” 

“Just one thing,” said Nankivell. “You said that 
Pedro would be lodged somewhere else. We would 
rather have him stay here with us.” 

“Your request will be communicated and an answer 
returned in due course,” replied Nahum. “In the mean- 
time, my orders admit of no deviation and he' must 
accompany me.” 

“I don’t like that a bit,” said Nankivell. “Pedro is 
not a servant to me, he is a darned good friend and he 
is entitled to as good treatment as the rest of us get." 

“He will be entirely safe and will be treated well,” 
answered Nahum. “He will be lodged with others of 
his race and will be perfectly comfortable. I regret 
that it is necessary to separate him from you, but as I 
said, my orders admit of no deviation." 

He bowed deeply and retired by the route by which 
we had entered, followed by Pedro. The huge stone 
slab shut behind him. 

“Well, what do you know about that?" exclaimed 
Nankivell, sinking into a divan. 

“Take the gifts that the gods provide,” said Mariston 
sententiously. “I aifi going to take a bath.” 

“Wait a minute, Bob,” said Willis, “let’s talk this 
over a little. I managed to get a word to Pedro before 
he left and I asked him if this duck was the wizard 
whom he had met years ago. He said it was not, al- 
though the other wizard was very like this one. He's 
also a dickens of a lot like that chap who died in my 
tent two years ago, but again he’s not the same.” 

"Are you sure he’s not the one who died in your 
tent?” asked Nankivell innocently. 

“You know well enough what I mean," retorted Wil- 
lis. “This whole business is beyond me, but it is evi- 
dent that we have found what we went after and it is 
more mysterious than my wildest dreams. I have heard 
rumors of the existence of a race of white wizards in 
( Continued on page 737) 



The Globoid 


•I "Get back to the com- 
pound and tell your father 
to keep away from here , "he 
com rnanded. 


H EYWUOD CROMBIE, corporal of the In- 
terplanetary Flying Police and holder of the 
2124 Efficiency Medal, was spending his 
first sleeping period on Venus for three 
years in a strange manner. He was sitting 
in a small metal closet attached to the room assigned to 
him, peering out of the slightly opened door at the far 
corner of the windowless room at his bed. And on the 
bed, where Crombie’s weary body should have been 
lying, reposed an effigy of himself, a sheet covering all 
but a shock of red hair and what in the semi-darkness 
might have been taken for part of a face. 

The bedroom itself was artificially cooled, a delight- 
ful haven of repose for one who had all day long piloted 
a flying ovoid through the steaming murk of Venus’ 
north polar regions, but the little closet was not so 
cooled, and the ceaseless warm rains that poured down 


its outside shell kept the humid air of Crombie’s retreat 
at an effective parboiling temperature. 

Silently but with conviction Crombie cursed himself 
for his slavery to “hunches.” As he was about to slip 
into soothing slumber in the wide, deep bed, something 
had jerked him to wakefulness. Something had impelled 
him to drag his protesting limbs across the room into the 
purgatory he was now enduring. Something had forced 
him to keep his leaden eyelids open and to deny himself 
the rest for which his body tormented him. 

His "hunch” had already cost him half of the nine- 
hour sleeping period. It was likely to cost him the other 
half. Life at the mine colony was regulated by chronome- 
ters and bells — not by the dim blob of the sun, that oc- 
casionally could be seen, riding high around the polar 
horizon interminably. 

It was hard to understand how danger could threaten. 


700 


Te rror 


By R. F. Starzl 

Author of “ Madness of the Dust ” 

" Out of the Sub-Universe," etc. 


/ T has just been brought to our attention, via a newspaper dipping, that Mr. 

Starzl, who continues to get an increasing number of followers among scien- 
tifiction fans, uses his imagination and predilections toward science for other 
things besides writing. He actually does some experimenting with the subjects 
of some of his stories. ff / e doubt if our author has had any personal experience 
with at least one of the dangers which he writes about. We do know, however, 
that " The Globoid Terror" is an absorbing tale of scientific interest and well 
worthy of the author. Also, we know that you must not miss reading this story. 

Illustrated by MOREY 


The door was securely locked and bolted on the inside. 
There were no windows. Light and air were supplied 
by foolproof mechanical means, while the cooling liquid 
was circulated between the webs of the metal ceiling. 

Immersed in bitter musings, Crombie at first failed to 
hear a slight noise in the air-intake duct on the wall 
opposite his hiding place, but a moment later came the 
sharp scrape of metal. All his senses alert, he could 
barely make out a hand reaching through a neat hole cut 
in the ventilator screen. It was a long, writhing hand 
with seven white fingers, recognizable at once as the 
hand of a native Venerian. With consummate skill it 
removed the invisible locking device on the inside, re- 
moved the whole screen, and lowered it gently to the 
floor by means of a cord. 

TJie body of the creature now appeared. Like all 
Venerians, it suggested, to some extent, an extremely 
emaciated human being. Over six feet in height, it was 
so slight that it crept through the nine-inch-square duct 
without difficulty and bounded soundlessly to the floor. 
Possessed of a long, thin arm that grew from the middle 
of its chest, it manipulated this member with such skill 
and dexterity that the absence of a second arm was 
hardly, noticeable. But Crombie was not interested in 
the odd appearance of the visitor. “Look out for the 
Venerian” had long been a stock procedure in the meth- 
ods of the Interplanetary Flying Police, and Crombie 
knew that in those long, melancholy heads there was a 
store of cunning sufficient to make up for any physical 
deficiency. 

A twin of the first intruder now appeared. He pushed 
before him a metal box which he handled most deferen- 
tially. Momentarily he touched fingers with the one who 
had preceded him, conveying his thoughts. The other 
nodded, took the box and carefully set it on the floor be- 
side the bed. 

The first Venerian started to pick up the sheet to ex- 
pose the man he thought was underneath it, but desisted 
as again the other’s fingers sought his. Their hands 
tangled in lengthy and animated conversation. Finally 
they both nodded. The one who seemed to be the leader 
picked up the box, and gingerly holding it over the head 
with the red locks, opened it and let the contents fall. 
The box contained a fluffy black mold that clung to 


everything it touched with a strange and horrible 
tenacity. 

Rage coursed through the veins of the watching po- 
liceman. He was acquainted with the black mold. He 
had seen men, every bit as good as himself, accidentally 
touch a little of it in the dark, warm caves far under- 
ground during the Equatorial rebellion. He had seen 
the mold spread over their skins as fire spreads over the 
tall, rank grasses of Mars after the canals have dried 
up. He had seen them literally devoured by the vora- 
cious black vegetation, and he had helped burn the body 
of a dear friend and comrade — no — not the body — a 
mass of black mold in the sardonic semblance only of the 
human body it had absorbed and replaced. 

With a roar Crombie bounded out of the closet. He 
seized the two emaciated necks of the would-be assassins 
and brought their heads together with a sound like the 
bursting of a pumpkin that has fallcu from a wagon. 
Both dropped limp in his grasp ; they were dead. Im- 
mediately Crombie regretted his action. He knew he 
should have kept them alive to sweat the truth out of 
them. 

He threw the bodies against the further wall to re- 
main until morning and turned his attention to the bed. 
The black mold lay quiescent on the red wig and pasty- 
complexioned false face beneath. The artificial coolness 
of the room made it a little sluggish, but Crombie knew 
that the warmth of his body would soon have awakened 
it to devilish activity. He focused the standard weapon 
of the Interplanetary, a D’Arsonval projector, on the 
bed, and saw the black mold turn gray in death. Assur- 
ing himself that he had covered every inch of the bed 
with the high-frequency beams, he rolled everything into 
a sheet and threw it into the waste basket. Then he 
sprawled upon the surgically sterile mattress and spent 
the rest of the sleeping period in profoundly blissful 
oblivion. 

C ROMBIE rose to the chime of a bell, and stepped 
into the adjoining bathroom, where he stripped and 
stood under the shower. When he pulled a chain the 
collected rain water from the roof, unfailingly warm, 
sluiced down upon him, and this was followed by a 
needle spray of ice water. He shouted to his heart’s con- 


701 


702 


AMAZING STORIES 


tent when the cold water struck him, knowing that the 
soundproof walls would not permit anyone to be dis- 
turbed. 

Speculating on the night’s happenings, and regretting 
the sleep he had lost, the officer applied some depilatory 
soap to his three-day beard, wiped soap and beard off 
on a towel, and was quickly arrayed in the light water- 
proof garments customary on Venus. 

On the way down to the factor’s — the general man- 
ager’s — private living quarters, he instructed a native 
servant to dispose of the bodies. 

He waited in the breakfast room for the widowed 
factor and his daughter to appear, full of pleasurable 
anticipation for the meal to come, as was only natural 
for one who has cooked for himself in the cramped 
quarters of a police patrol flying ovoid. 

"Good morning, sir !’’ 

Crombie looked up as Factor Burgess entered the 
room, startled by the distinctly hostile tone of the words. 
Unconsciously he took professional note of the man on 
whose shoulders rested the responsibility for the huge 
diamond mine. Past middle age, tall and almost slight 
in build, with graying hair and aristocratic features, 
Burgess would have seemed more at home in the count- 
ing room of a terrestrial bank. Yet there were more 
than traces of the energy which had placed him in this 
responsible position. He carried with him an aura of 
command, overlain at the moment with anxiety. 

And the load he carried was not small. Of course, the 
'diamonds mined were not of the gem variety so desir- 
able in antiquity. Fine gem diamonds had been pro- 
duced artificially for years. The diamonds sought here 
were the incomparably hard and tough gray diamonds, 
which had taken the place in industry formerly occu- 
pied by the more common black diamonds, or carbon- 
ado “carbons” which had formerly been the best for 
rock drills and similar work. Throughout the far-flung 
solar system men were penetrating the very cores of the 
planets in search of minerals — in eager pursuit of mys- 
tery, and on Venus and Earth and Mars and even sun- 
blistered Mercury the rare and clean-cutting “gray car- 
bons” from this lone mine were regarded with respect 
and affection by swaggering hard-rock men. 

There was no relenting in the chilly look of the factor. 

‘T’vc heard the Interplanetary Flyers always get their 
man,” he remarked with cutting sarcasm. “I see you've 
made an early start.” 

“Somebody made an early start. I merely finished it,” 
Crombie said calmly. "What do you suppose those beg- 
gars were in my room for?” 

"The poor fellows probably came to see if you were 
comfortable. As servants in this house, they should 
have the right to do that without being killed — murdered, 
I might say.” 

The officer reddened until his face was nearly the 
same color as his unruly hair. 

“If you feel that way about it,” he remarked, getting 
to his feet, “I guess I won’t be your guest for break- 
fast.” 

“You’ll eat your breakfasts in the guard-house for 
some time, my fine young fellow,” Burgess retorted with 
rising anger, “when my report of this affair reaches 
headquarters.” 

“Speaking about reports,” Crombie drawled, “you 
should be more interested in my report than I in yours. 
Remember, I have here in my pocket complete authority 


to investigate the affairs of this mine. You know as 
well as I do that production has fallen off in the past 
year from $175,000,000 to $90,000,000. You have 
given no satisfactory explanation of this loss and the 
company’s engineers have not substantiated your theory 
that the mine is petering out. When the company sends 
an auditor to check up he disappears. . . 

"He lost his way and wandered into the swamp.” 

“Maybe, maybe. Nobody has blamed you for his 
death. I might say the directors have been very lenient 
with you. No one has accused you of anything, but it 
is evident that someone is diverting the mine production 
and hiding the carbons for a real clean-up. That’s what 
I’m here to investigate, and if you want to keep sus- 
picion away from yourself, you’ll assist me instead of 
putting obstacles in my way.” 

The factor’s belligerence had collapsed, and his face 
was a mottled gray. 

"I’m ready to help you,” he muttered. 

“Well and good,” said Crombie. "Now, the first thing 
I want to do is show you why I had to kill those two 
rascals.” 

He led the way to his room, pulled the waste basket 
to light, prepared to show his evidence. 

The waste basket was empty. The articles covered 
with the dead mold were gone; fresh coverings were 
on the bed. The damaged screen had been replaced with 
a new one. 

Baffled and raging inwardly, Crombie made his way 
to the human mess hall, where some half hundred straw 
bosses, mostly Terrestrials, but with a sprinkling of 
huge, morose Martians, had their meals separately from 
the Vencrian laborers. Here he made the best shift he 
could with the hearty but carelessly served fare. His 
humor was not improved when a surly Martian acciden- 
tally spilled his plate of stew and then wanted to fight 
him on account of it. 

To a casual visitor the scene would have been one to 
impress itself on the memory — the long, metal, window- 
less hall with its arched ceiling; the subdued murmur of 
rain on the roof ; the rows of hard-bitten faces. Fifty 
jaws champed methodically. Fifty pairs of eyes re- 
garded the plates before them, vouchsafing the stranger 
scarcely a glance. 

Was that indifference assumed? Crombie thought 
that men in such an isolated outpost would display a 
little more curiosity toward a stranger. He had intro- 
duced himself as an electronic expert sent to examine 
the conversion motors, and it seemed to him that he had 
been accepted rather too carelessly. 

Covertly the officer studied Nusskopf, the hairy little 
man opposite him. Nusskopf was not a miner, the 
photograph-embellished service record had shown. He 
was the official hunter, whose duty it was to keep the 
huge saurians, that roamed the arctic zone from blun- 
dering into the mine area with consequent damage and 
confusion. And not only the comparatively harmless 
saurians, but other forms of life more inimical. Nuss- 
kopf had a bluff heartiness of manner, giving the im- 
pression of a man of great energy, which he extended 
even to the process of eating, as evidenced by the float- 
ing ribs — of a sort of Vencrian horse — ranged around 
his plate. Crombie made a mental note that, as an offi- 
cial hunter, the man would be free to go about in any 
part of the mine workings, or in the surrounding wilder- 
ness, if he desired. 


THE GLOBOID TERROR 


703 


One after another lie looked them over ; Hoyt, Clasen, 
Murray, Nar Tol the Martian, Winterfeld, Ozdorf, an- 
other Martian, Arthur, Henesy, Mossman, and so on to 
the end of the table and back again. By the time the 
meal was over he had identified each man by his photo- 
graph and service record, and his efficient policeman’s 
brain catalogued the information, but he failed to get 
a lead of real promise. 

C ROMBIE crossed the streaming pavement to the 
low, arched administration building and was ad- 
mitted at once to the office of Lawrence De Maine, the 
general superintendent, second in command to Bur- 
gess. De Maine at least seemed to have stood the loss 
of a couple of Venerian servants fairly well. Stepping 
into his beautifully furnished private office out of that 
primitive world, Crombie helped himself to a long pale 
cigar out of the proffered box and relaxed comfortably 
into the deep cushions of a chair. He grinned at the 
smiling De Maine, noting the small, trim figure, the con- 
summate sophistication of the fine features which 
missed being arrogant by a shade, the stiff little, cockily 
self-satisfied black mustache. 

“Sorry to have missed you at breakfast,” said De 
Maine easily. “The Old Man was somewhat upset, eh?” 

“He was,” Crombie drawled. “Most decidedly. Not 
that I blame him much. 1 tried to show him the evi- 
dence that I had to do it in self-defense, but when we 
got to the room it was gone.” 

De Maine nodded assent. “Tricky devils, these na- 
tives,” he agreed. “I learned a long time ago to watch 
my step and never give them the first chance. Only, 
ah — " he smiled — “if we have a — ah — casualty, we aim 
not to let the Old Man see the remains. It was tough 
luck to have it happen right there in the residence.” 

“My old chief was with me in the Equatorial rebel- 
lion, and he knows the natives, so I don’t expect any 
trouble, even if Burgess reports me, but I might have 
easier work if he'd be reasonable,” said Crombie. 

De Maine became grave. “It’s a serious matter,” he 
said earnestly. “It isn’t only the financial loss, but the 
industries using the carbons have complained to the In- 
terplanetary Congress and we’re in danger of losing the 
concession on their representation that industry is being 
harmed by the shortage. Wherever the carbons are go- 
ing, it’s not on the market. There must be several 
bushels of them hidden somewhere — a stupendous for- 
tune for the thief. In the meantime a group of Martian 
financiers are going after our concession and dividends 
are falling.” 

Crombie nodded. Fixing De Maine’s dark eyes, he 
hurled a question at him — 

“Confidentially, do you think Burgess knows anything 
about it?” 

The superintendent flushed, looked uneasy. 

“I couldn’t say,” he answered slowly. “I have always 
admired Mr. Burgess and would have to have strong 
evidence before I’d believe he had anything to do with 
the conspiracy. No, I believe he is innocent. But of 
course I realize that I am under suspicion too !” he ex- 
claimed. 

“Everybody is,” was Crombie’s frank rejoinder. “But 
you can save me a lot of trouble, De Maine, if you’ll 
tell me this — does the shortage occur in the separator 
works or after you give carbons to Mr. Burgess ?” 

De Maine looked troubled. 


“What I am about to tell you,” he said slowly, "may 
get me into trouble, but you’ll find it out anyway. The 
truth is, as you have intimated, the production of the car- 
bons is as great as ever. I have been turning them over 
to the factor regularly, and have the receipts in full in 
my private file. He locks the carbons in die manga- 
nese-beryllium safe, each day’s production in a little bag, 
and by the time the time lock permits opening the safe 
again, about sixty per cent of the carbons are gone, yet 
the seal of the bags is unbroken and the safe shows no 
sign of having been tampered with.” 

“Of the forty per cent remaining, is any taken in sub- 
sequent thefts?” 

“No.” 

“That’s a pretty thin story to tell the directors.” 

De Maine flushed. “I know it. Rather than making 
such a report we changed the records to correspond, 
hoping that we should be able to work out a solution.” 

“To put it plainly, you conspired with Burgess to 
cover up his apparent guilt.” 

“He isn’t guilty 1 I saw him seal the bags and seal up 
the carbons, and the time lock absolutely prevents open- 
ing except at specified times.” 

“But just the same it was a sappy trick.” 

“I know it,” De Maine admitted, a little nervously. 
“But you see” — he hesitated — “I’m engaged to Verna, 
his daughter.” 

“Oh,” Crombie grunted. “It wouldn’t be the first time 
it’s been done, but it’s foolish. This will probably cost 
you your job.” 

“Perhaps," De Maine agreed earnestly, “but would 
that solve the mystery ? I admit I was a fool, but a man 
will do much to save the girl he loves from disgrace. 
Give me a chance, and perhaps I can get you the real 
thief. I still believe the Old Man is innocent.” 

“I won’t go building planetoids," the officer promised 
in the idiom of the day. “But about those disappearing 
carbons — do you suppose there is some kind of fourth- 
dimensional monkey-business about it?” 

De Maine grasped at the straw. 

“There might be,” he assented eagerly. “That would 
account for everything. But isn’t that all pure specula- 
tion? I’ve never heard of the trick being actually done.” 

Crombie racked his brain. Shortly before leaving the 
earth he had taken a -news-injection. The so-called 
micro-cosmic serum, taken from the brain of a profes- 
sional news-reader and specially treated, had planted in 
his brain, anfang other facts, the memory of a recent 
scientific event. A young mathematician, delving in the 
ruins of ancient New York, had come across a well- 
preserved copy of a twentieth-century scientifiction 
magazine. Certain hints in a story therein had enabled 
him to perform the feat that had baffled scientists for 
ages — he had turned an orange inside out without break- 
ing the shell. 

“Perhaps,” suggested the officer half hopefully, “some- 
one temporarily turns the safe and bags inside out and 
helps himself to the contents." 

“If he does, the process is invisible to us in the third 
dimension. We’ve been guarding the safe, but the car- 
bons disappear just the same.” 

Their desultory conversation was interrupted by the 
vision that appeared in the suddenly opened doorway. 
Crombie did not need to be told that she was Verna 
Burgess. Nor did he need more than one guess to realize 
that she didn’t care for him. 


704 


AMAZING STORIES 


“How do?” she acknowledged the introduction stiffly. 
Her blue eyes took him in contemptuously. In the back 
of Crombie’s brain a camera clicked ; noting her lissome- 
ness and grace triumphant under the stiff rain garments, 
her dark, heavy hair under a transparent cap, De 
Maine’s sacrifice to shield her father seemed more natu- 
ral. What else could a man do? 

“How are you, Mr. Policeman?” she said pleasantly. 
“Have you killed any children or cripples since break- 
fast?” 

Crombie turned without a word. Glancing at the 
infra-red periscope, he apparently became absorbed in 
the depressing, soggy image of the outside world, while 
he listened to the low-pitched conversation behind him. 
Like most eavesdroppers, he heard nothing complimen- 
tary, and so he stalked out into the tepid downpour. 

C ROMBIE put on a pair of goggles which were part 
of the standard Venerian equipment of the force. 
Although heavily shrouded in clouds, with an atmos- 
phere surcharged with water vapors, which make it im- 
possible for a man to see n>ore than a hundred yards in 
any direction, Venus is rather richly supplied with light 
of the infra-red series. The harmonic goggles took advan- 
tage of the normally invisible infra-red, utilizing the long 
waves to set up shorter vibrations visible to the eye in a 
manner analogous in reverse order to the fluoroscope 
used by the ancients for X-rays. With their use Crom- 
bie was able to see a half-mile or more. 

The mine was some hundreds of yards from the 
walled compound which contained the administration, 
residence and barracks structures. Leaving the firm, 
paved court, Crombie was swallowed up immediately by 
a wilderness so primitive, so dismal and terrifying that 
even he, an old campaigner, felt a vague uneasiness. 
There was no such thing as solid ground. On either side 
of the wide “corduroy" road, constructed of tall palm 
trunks laid side by side, was quaking muskeg. Woe to 
the man who lost the road or the occasional outcrop- 
pings of solid rock that provided the only means of 
ground travel! 

Vast ferns, towering a hundred feet in the air, drooped 
over the man-made lane, shutting out the sullen sky. 
Through the darkness, difficult even for the infra-red 
rays to penetrate, came the patter and drip of perpetual 
rain, interspersed with the barks, bellows and grunts of 
harmless beasts that were tolerated near the mines. Gro- 
tesque caricatures of turtles with huge hornbills splashed 
off the comparative dryness of the road and fled noisily 
into the odorous fog. Once the officer’s way was barred 
by a vague shape that sat on its haunches in the road and 
browsed the luscious, drooping top of a tree with long, 
thick, fleshy leaves. It squealed in terror as the D’Arson- 
val current singed its flesh, and its crashing flight roused 
a hideous bedlam that did not subside until long after 
Crombie had been admitted to the squat, rambling build- 
ing that housed the machinery at the mine entrance. 
As he entered the door he felt a blast of frigid air that 
was, after his sweating journey, both welcome and dis- 
quieting. 

Crombie stared curiously. This was not what he had 
expected, and the chief engineer, a highly developed 
Eurasian, volunteered information. 

“You surprised, not? You expect see great pit— big 
hole in ground? Yes? Like they mined black carbons 
on Earth? Maybe this look crazy, hey? Well, crazy 


like dibdar, maybe. Ha, ha! That a joke. The dib- 
dar, he small, but he the smartest little animal fellow on 
Venus. Well, this the only way get carbons on Venus. 
Big hole fill with water right quick all of a sudden, so 
we leave top ground. Freeze it! Froze hard as rock. 
Men work under roof frozen mud. Walls frozen; pil- 
lars frozen. Make sort of cavern, see? Underneath 
cavern we make 'nother — eh — sort basement, see? 
Ha, ha!” 

Crombie left the ha-haing engineer and stepped into 
one of the magnetic elevators, touched a button that 
would cause him to be deposited at the floor level of the 
first cavern, five hundred feet below. As he started 
gently to descend, he saw a negro laborer, carrying a 
crowbar, come hurrying across the room as if trying to 
get into the elevator before it went down, brushing aside 
several Venerian helpers like so many straws. The 
negro stumbled clumsily and sprawled on the floor. The 
crowbar flew from his hand, straight and true as a jave- 
lin, into the copper maze of the electrical selector box. 
Instantly there was a blinding flash, the scream of a 
siren, and Crombie felt the floor drop from under him. 
The cage was falling, free and unimpeded, down a hole, 
to end in total destruction fifteen miles down. 

In those roaring times, when the solar system still pre- 
sented real frontiers for the hardy adventurer to batter 
down, a man could not be a member of the Interplane- 
tary Flying Police without facing death and danger a 
thousand times. Crombie was more or less inured to it. 
Yet, as he hurtled helplessly down that hole, he oozed 
sweat at every pore. To be smashed to a pulp in that 
fiendish muck was no way for a man to die! 

He must have fallen at least a mile before the swift 
flashes of brightly lighted caverns ceased, and he con- 
tinued to drop in darkness. The spaces below had been 
thoroughly cleaned out, and were merely kept in their 
frozen condition to support those above, which formed 
the nucleus for a system of lateral excavations extend- 
ing for miles in all directions under roofs of frozen mud. 

Another eternity etched itself on his mind, though it 
must have been a matter of only a few seconds. He 
was now dropping, as it seemed, as fast as a bullet. The 
rollers of the guiding rails pounded a mad rhythm. He 
was sick — so sick he believed he would die before he hit 
bottom. And then it happened. 

With a demoniacal shriek the rollers bit into their bear- 
ings. A violent lurch hurled Crombie to the bottom of 
the car. Again the car dropped, and again it was seized. 
The guides grew red-hot and melted with a trail like a 
meteorite’s. Mud began to spray through the gratings. 
They were scraping the sides. For economy of refrig- 
eration the abandoned workings had been allowed to get 
too warm. The mud and clay had softened, squeezing 
the elevator shaft out of line. The deceleration was 
now violent and sustained. From above came a rush of 
air and a violent rumble. A mass of mud was falling 
down. For an agonizing moment Crombie thought he 
was going to be buried alive, but the avalanche brushed 
by the car, muttering and mumbling as it were, to the 
infernal depths below. Suddenly the car left the guides 
altogether, but its appalling speed had been checked. It 
plopped harmlessly into the soft mud. 

Silence and darkness — save for the drip-drip of water. 
Scrambling out of the cage that had nearly been his 
coffin, the officer threw his flashlight, a powerful type 
using the newly discovered rare mineral vorium as a 


THE GLOBOID TERROR 


705 


disintegrating agent on magnesium, about his prison. 
He found himself on top of a sticky talus of clay that 
had been dislodged from the side of the bore. Over- 
head a very dim light was visible — possibly about three 
miles up. Below, a sickening chasm. There was appar- 
ently no way out except the elevator shaft. 

Crombie hoped for no rescue. He knew that the 
wrecking of the control was done deliberately to assassi- 
nate him. He summed up his advantage : 

Those above thought him dead. 

His disadvantage : a climb up that frightful chim- 
ney along the rails. He started. 

AN HOUR later he had climbed 500 feet, to the floor 
-tV of the cavern next above. Here he had a bit of 
luck. He found an abandoned conduit for rcfrigerat- 
ing pipes and electric cables, with the metal ladder still 
intact. 

In another hour his hands were swollen and raw. His 
shoes had been cut to shreds and he was climbing on 
bare feet. But he was sustained by the knowledge that 
the pipes were again very cold, covered with ice. This 
meant that he was approaching the zone of active work. 

It was step, haul, grunt, push, curse. Every move- 
ment was agony. Every foot gained was torture. His 
head was reeling. Crombie knew he must soon relax 
and fall. With desperate effort he crawled into a lat- 
eral conduit, inched his way along for a short distance. 
Temporarily safe, he fainted. 

Crombie must have been unconscious in that inky 
blackness for several hours. When he awakened, it 
was because he heard his name spoken. Hardly a foot 
from where he lay was a square opening, dimly outlined 
by a weak light beyond. Had he continued his blind 
squirming he would have fallen several feet to the floor 
of the cavern into which he was looking. He crept a 
little closer to the opening and looked out. He received 
a shock of surprise when he saw De Maine; barely re- 
pressed an exclamation of joy. He was glad for that 
instinctive repression when De Maine began to speak: 

"There’s no use deluding ourselves, man. Just be- 
cause we got rid of Crombie doesn’t mean we’re safe. 
The Interplanetary Flyers will send another man, and 
if we get him 

“ they’ll send another, and in the end they’ll get us. 

That means the tube!" 

He made an expressive gesture, only too clear to the 
others. They visualized the long, sad walk from the 
death cell. They saw themselves thrust into the vitre- 
ous tube, a dull, momentary glow of the surrounding 
helix 

And a second later the ashes would be ready for de- 
livery to the relatives. A negro — the one who had 
thrown the crow-bar — gave a shuddering groan. 

“Oh Gawd! Oh Gawd!’’ he wailed. 

“Shut up! Why not try other fella! Ha, ha! That’s 
joke. We’re down, you know — closer other fella! 
Ha, ha!’’ 

“Don’t be fools!” De Maine snapped. "I’ll take care 
of you — all of you. The carbons are already in my 
ovoid, the Spit tin’ Devil, except for this week’s haul. 
We’ll hop off for Mars, where I have friends who’ll take 
care of us. Then a little plastic surgery, and we’re fixed 
for life.” 

“Just where is your ship, if I may ask?” inquired Han- 
ford, with a snaggly-toothed grin. 


"Boil that !" De Maine said sharply. "Think I’m a 
fool? What'd keep you from stealing the ship on your 
own ?” 

"Aw!” a sallow-faced individual intervened. “We 
wouldn't have no place to go. We gotta have you any- 
way, and you’re bright enough to have the ship locked, 
I guess.” 

De Maine considered. “You’d better go and wait for 
me at the ship at that I’ll tell you where it is : Follow 
the corduroy until you come to the green outcropping. 
Follow that west until you come to the beach of the 
Endless Sea. The Spittin' Devil is nestled under 
Despair Rock. And no funny business. I’ve got some- 
thing to attend to first, but the man who isn't there and 
ready when I come gets left.” 

"We'll be there!” they assured him in jovial chorus. 
They had been De Maine’s pawns in this business, and 
among themselves they had discussed the possibility of 
being double-crossed. The fact that their Venerian co- 
plotters were being left to their fate bothered them not 
at all. Let the natives go back to the jungle ! 

Crombie was called upon to act. He rejected the 
idea of covering them with his projector and marching 
them out as his prisoners. There were at least ten men 
there, including the hunter. Several were armed. This 
meant that Crombie would be seared to death before he 
could accomplish anything, because the men were not 
all within reach of an instantaneous sweep of the offi- 
cer’s weapon. Or the survivors could play safe and gas 
him to death in the conduit. 

Desperate measures were necessary. The men were 
on their way to a large freight elevator near by. Crom- 
bie dropped quietly out of the hole, suppressing a groan. 
He was thankful that the emission tube at the top of the 
abandoned cavern was near the end of its run and gave 
little life. He squirmed through shallow depressions in 
the floor, heedless of the half frozen mud, and so gained 
the rear of the metal latticework encasing the elevator 
shaft. De Maine adjusted the inductances and the cage 
began its ascent slowly. 

In a few seconds the floor of the cage was on a level 
with the officer’s eyes. Quickly he squeezed through the 
latticework, shuddering as he tried to forget the yawn- 
ing hole before him. Calling on his tortured muscles 
for their last ounce of energy he leaped into space 

For a harrowing moment it seemed that his straining 
fingers must miss the edge of the floor truss. But they 
caught — slipped. The vortical flux was taking hold of 
the casing rings and the acceleration upward put a cruel 
strain on the desperate man underneath. In a minute 
or two, however, the induction constant was reached and 
the strain on Crombie was somewhat relieved. He man- 
aged to get a firm hold with both his hands and so held 
on for the rest of the interminable ascent. 

The men clattered out of the cage and out of the build- 
ing, and Crombie worked his way to the end of the truss. 
He was barely able to reach a member of the elevator 
.casing and so to pull his way to safety. 

But Crombie had been hasty in assuming that all the 
men had left the building. As he wormed his way 
thankfully to solid footing again, he was greeted with a 
shout, and a yellow figure fled from the scene, ruthlessly 
trampling a frail Yenerian who was oiling a conveyor. 
The creature threshed about under the machine which 
did the heavy labor he was incapable of doing and died. 

{Continued on page 758) 


S o l a r i t e 

By John W. Campbell, Jr. 

Author of " When the Atoms Failed," “ Piracy Preferred,” etc. 


T HE lights of the great Transcontinental Air- 
port were blazing in cheering splendor. Out 
there in the center of the broad field a dozen 
men were silhouetted in the white brilliance, 
looking up at the sky, where the stars winked 
cold and clear on the jet background of the frosty night. 
A slim crescent of the moon showed in the west, a thin 
sickle of light that in no way dimmed the cold flame of 
the brilliant stars. 

There seemed one now that moved across the motion- 
less field of far-off suns, one that shot toward the air- 
port in a long, swift curve. The men on the broad plane 
murmured and pointed up at it as it swept low over the 
blazing lights of New York. Lower it was now, the 
towering city behind it. Half a mile into the air the 
buildings rose in shining glory of colored tile that shone 
brightly in the sweeping play of ever-changing colored 
floodlights, while above, like long fingers of crimson and 
green and gold, every color of the rainbow— the long 
beams of the spotlights reached out into the night. 

One of them picked out the 
descending machine, and it 
suddenly leaped out of the 
darkness as a shining, stream- 
lined cylinder, a cylinder with 
a great halo of blue fire, as the 
beam of the spotlight set it 
off from the jet black night. 

In an instant the ship was 
vast before the eyes of the 
waiting men, and it had 
landed gently on the field, was 
rolling smoothly, gracefully 
toward them. 

Two dozen men climbed 
from the great ship, shivering 
in the icy blast that swept 
across the field, spoke a mo- 
ment with the men on the field, 
then climbed quickly into the 
grateful warmth of the waiting 
field car. In a moment they 
were moving rapidly toward 
the lights of the field house, 
half a mile off. 

Behind them a huge ship 
leapt straight into the air, then 
suddenly pointed its nose up 
at an angle of thirty degrees and shot high into the 
air at an unbelievable speed. In an instant it was gone. 
At the field house the party was breaking up rapidly. 


“We want to thank you, President Morey, for your 
demonstration of the new ship tonight. I am sure we all 
appreciate the kindness you have shown the press, and 
you, Dr. Arcot, for answering our many questions about 
the new ship.” The reporters were filing out quickly; 
now, anxious to get the news into the morning editions, 
for it was after one o'clock now. Each was taking a 
small slip of paper from the attendant standing at the 
exit, the official statement of the company. At last all 
had left but the six men who were responsible for this 
wonderful new machine. 

This night had witnessed the official demonstration of 
the first of the Arcot-Morey molecular motion ships. 
Small as this ship was, compared to the titanic ships that 
were to come, yet it had a passenger capacity of over 
three thousand, as great as that of any of the existing 
winged planes, and its speed was terrifically greater. The 
trip from the west coast to the eastern had been made in 
less than one hour. At a speed close to one mile a sec- 
ond the great ship had shot through the thin air, twenty- 
five miles above the dark earth. 
Propelled and sustained by the 
energy of heat, it needed no 
wings and could attain terrific 
speed. In all matter the mole- 
cules are in rapid motion, the 
motion being responsible for 
their temperature, but this mo- 
tion is ordinarily in every di- 
rection, the uncountable bil- 
lions of molecules each moving 
in a diffcrenUlirection, the law 
of averages balances out their 
individual motions, and they 
make no progress. Just four 
months ago Arcot, Junior, 
working with Morey, Junior, 
had discovered that very high 
frequency electrical vibrations 
could be made to affect these 
molecules and make them all 
move in the same direction. 
If all the molecules of a piece 
of matter move in the same 
direction, obviously the entire 
body is moving in that direc- 
tion. 

In this car a huge bar of 
metal was so affected, and its molecules all tried to move 
forward, but the mass of the car held it back, and the 
molecules were slowed down. Slow-moving molecules 


A LL roads lead to tales of inter- 
jLjL planetary travel, it seems. Our 
young scientist-author could hardly be 
expected to confine himself forever 
strictly to our own comparatively tiny 
planet. But Mr. Campbell Jr. has the 
faculty of exercising his imagination, 
at the same time keeping it strictly 
within the bounds of present-day 
scientific knowledge, and we must 
therefore concede to him the right of 
flights off into space, beyond our 
Earth — even beyond the universe. 
Those of our readers who read this 
author’s previous contributions, know 
that they can expect a thrilling, excit- 
ing adventure tale full of new arid in- 
genious scientific ideas. And these 
readers will not be disappointed. 


706 


Illustrated by MOREY 



<J Streaming from them, in a mighty blast of 
incandescent gas, the atomic hydrogen was 
shooting out in a mighty column. 


707 


708 


AMAZING STORIES 


mean a low temperature, and at once these molecules 
absorbed heat from the molecules of the surrounding 
air, and swiftly the great car was accelerated. Similar 
devices steered the great ship and another series of such 
power units directed upward held it motionless vertically, 
or made it rise or sink. 

No matter what the speed of the ship, the molecules 
were always trying to go faster, for who can say how 
fast the molecules of the earth’s atmosphere are moving? 
They have their individual motions; in addition the earth 
spins on its axis, the entire planet revolves about the sun, 
while the whole system moves on through space at ten 
miles a second. Thus there was no limit but the speed of 
light to the velocity that the car could attain. 

This invention had been turned over to the Transconti- 
nental Air lines, whose president was the father of 
Morey, Junior, the co-inventor of the new apparatus. 

ARCOT was a theoretical physicist but Morey was a 
mathematician, and it was with his aid that Arcot 
was able to get the mathematical equation of his ideas. 
Arcot seemed always to be able to sense the solution to 
the problem with a brilliant leap of genius, the general 
answer, but it was Morey’s careful mathematical proof, 
following and amplifying the ideas Arcot outlined, that 
led to their successful operation. 

“Arcot,” said Morey, Senior, after the pressmen had 
left the room, “as President of this company I certainly 
want to thank you for the tremendous thing you have 
given us to use. As your friend and as a citizen, I want 
to thank you for the wonderful weapon. War is impos- 
sible. 

"You have ‘sold’ us this machine — but how can we 
repay you? Before this, time and time again, you have 
sold us your different machines, the ideas that have made 
it possible for our line to attain its present high position 
in the world transportation network. All you have ever 
accepted is the laboratory you use, its upkeep, and a small 
amount annually. What can we do to show our appre- 
ciation this time?” 

“Why,” answered Arcot smiling broadly, “you have 
not stated the terms correctly. Legally I have the lab- 
oratory in which to work, which your Company main- 
tains, and whatever amount of personal income I wish 
to draw. There isn’t even a ‘within reason' clause in it. 
As a matter of fact, it shoifld read that I have a fully 
equipped lab to putter around in, all the time I want to 
amuse myself, all the money I want — and the laboratory 
to amuse myself in. What more could I want?” 

“I suppose that is all true — but when you draw only 
about six thousand a year for personal expenses — why a 
good clerk could get that — and you, admittedly the most 
brilliant physicist of the earth, are satisfied! I don't 
feel that we are paying you properly !” 

“But the clerk might have a family — I haven’t — how 
could I use the money if I did draw more? But you 
can repay me this time,” added Arcot more seriously, 
“for this latest thing has made a new thing possible. 
I have always wanted to be able to visit other planets — 
it has been the drearrf of many a scientist for the last 
three centuries. This machine has made it possible. 
If you are willing — we could start by the spring of 2117. 
We have all been busy working on .that ship; finally 
the first of the molecular ships is finished. I want to 
start work on the first interplanetary ship. For this 
I will need to have Fuller’s help. Now that he has 


finished his work in designing that ship — I think he will 
be willing to help on my problem — he said so this eve- 
ning. The proposition will be expensive, of course, and 
that is where I must ask you to help me. I think, how- 
ever, that it may be a paying proposition, at that, for 
there will no doubt be many new sources of materials 
on the other planets.” 

They had walked out to the shed where Arcot’s private 
molecular motion car stood, the first machine that the 
world had ever seen, that used the heat of the sun 
to drive it and maintain it. Thoughtfully the presi- 
dent of the great Transcontinental Lines looked up 
at it. Small it was compared with the great machine that 
had just brought them east, but of the same swift type. 
It was a thing of graceful beauty here even as it rested 
on the ground, its long curving streamlines giving it 
wonderful grace. The men stood in thoughtful silence 
for a minute — the young men eager to hear the verdict 
of their prospective backer. 

"If it were the money you asked for, Arcot, I would 
gladly give you double the sum, but there is only one 
thing that worries me. I know perfectly well that 
if you do go, my son will go with you, and Fuller and 
Wade will naturally go too. Each of you has come 
to mean a lot to me. You and Fuller have known my 
son since college days. I have known Wade but three 
months, but every day I grow to like him more. There 
is no denying the fact that any such trip is a terrifically 
dangerous proposition. But if you were lost, there 
would be more than my personal loss. We would 
lose some of the most brilliant men on earth. You, 
for instance, are conceded as being the world’s most 
brilliant physicist; Fuller is one of the greatest designing 
engineers; Wade is rapidly rising into prominence as 
a chemist and as a physicist; and my son is certainly 
a good mathematician. 

“But you men should know how to get out of scrapes 
just that much better. Certainly there are few men 
on earth who would not be willing to back such a group 
of men — or any one of you, for that matter! I will 
back your trip! But although I know that Arcot and 
my son can handle a gun fairly well, I don’t know so 
much about Wade and Fuller. What experience have 
you two had ?” 

“I think my greatest recommendation will be as cook 
on the trip, Mr. Morey, I have done the cooking on 
a number of camping trips and I think that food has a 
considerable effect on the success of an expedition. I 
can shoot a bit, too,” said Fuller. 

“I come from the west, and have had a good bit of 
fun in the Rockies; there are still some mountain lions 
and some deer there. I also have a speaking acquaint- 
ance with the new gun, which Arcot developed in con- 
nection with his molecular motion. But there is so 
little you know about me — and most of it bad — I don’t 
see how I really get in on this opportunity — but I 
certainly don’t intend to keep the old boy knocking— 
I am with you, since I am invited!” 

Wade had been known as the Pirate — and it was 
through Arcot’s efforts that he had finally been cured. 
It was found that he had been suffering from klepto- 
maniacy induced by a blood clot in the brain, and after 
a simple operation, performed by one of the leading 
surgeons of the country, he had been restored to normal, 
as one of the world’s foremost scientists. He had at 
once been invited to join Arcot in his lab, to keep, as 


SOLARITE 


709 


Arcot explained, all possible competition in the fam- 
ily! Since then Wade had proved himself well worthy 
of his position. 

"You’re invited all right, Wade — on one condition — 
that you just forget all about what happened under 
the influence of the blood-clot. 

“Then you will definitely support us?” Arcot was 
jubilant. 

"Yes, I think I will,” replied Morey, Senior, seri- 
ously, "for I think it is worth doing. There may be 
great advantages coming from the trip.” 

The tremendous advantages that actually did come 
from the trip, Mr. Morey could not, of course, foresee, 
but we certainly must be thankful that he did decide 
to back this trip. 

"I want to thank you for that, Mr. Morey — wait 
till Dad gets back from that European conference — 

he can help us too 1” Arcot had evidently been 

making his plans for the trip! 

T HE young men climbed into the ship, to start for 
their apartment. Arcot was piloting, and out into 
the cold night air the ship rode easily, then up, up, up — 
up through the dull atmosphere, till they hung fifty 
miles up, on the outer verge of the airy blanket. Here 
in space they looked out in silent thought at the mag- 
nificent blazing stars of space. Here, where the dust- 
laden air could no longer mask their true colors, the 
stars shone unwinkingly, steadily, and in a glory that 
no man has ever seen, save thus far out in space. No 
longer were they all the same scintillating blue, all 
alike, as we see them from earth, but here they shone 
in a wonderous riot of color, as varied and as beautiful 
as the display of colored floodlights in some great city. 
They were tiny pinpoints of brilliant color, they were 
red, and green, and orange; there were yellow ones and 
deep blue ones — they shone in intense brightness, and 
each was tiny beyond comprehension; here, with no 
atmosphere to diffuse their brilliance, each was tiny to 
the vanishing point, mere points of light on a soft black 
that has no equal, the utter black of space, where there 
is nothing visible. Here no air blurred the stars to 
great pointed splotches. 

Then slowly Arcot let the machine settle to the blazing 
city miles below. 

“I love to go out there and look at those cold, pin- 
point lights ; they seem to draw me out there to investi- 
gate — the lure of other worlds. There always has come 
a sense of unfulfilled longing — the desire to go — and 
never before have I been able to hope to. Now — I will 
be out there by next spring !” Arcot paused and looked 
up at the mighty field of stars that arched over his head 
to be lost on either horizon. It was a wonderful night! 

“Where shall we go first, Dick?” asked Wade softly 
as he gazed out at the far-off suns of space. One wanted 
to talk softly here — there was a mighty grandeur about 
it that lured, yet oppressed one. 

“I have thought of that for the last four months. 
I have looked up statistics, and now that it is decided 
that we will start, we must decide where we are to go. 

"Of course we cannot leave the solar system. There 
are not many places we can go, let us eliminate them 
one by one, beginning with the sun and working out. 

“Obviously we will not go to the sun. Mercury 
circles the sun at a distance of 36,000,000 miles. It is 
the smallest of the major planets — only slightly larger 


than the moon, and very like it in many ways. It is 
easy to eliminate that — for it revolves always with the 
same face to the sun. The tremendous tidal action of 
the sun has through the ages, slowed Mercury’s axial 
the sun, and once in those eighty-eight days it turns on 
rotation till it merely keeps the same face toward the 
sun. Once every eighty-eight days it revolves about 
its axis. Thus always it faces the sun on one side 
and space with the other. One side is as hot and bleak 
as a lava bed, the other as cold as far off Neptune. 

"Again it is too small to maintain an atmosphere. 
It has neither air nor water. Were we to visit it we would 
find no life, and could not leave the ship. 

“This also applies to the moon, so thus we eliminate 
two possibilities and into the bargain I might say that 
the moon is so readily investigated telescopically that it 
scarcely repays investigation in this way. 

“Next out from the sun is Venus — the beautiful planet. 
Venus gets twice the radiation from the sun that our 
earth does, and she is nearly the same size, her diameter 
is 7,700 miles while that of the earth is 7,900. The entire 
planet is coated with a perpetual layer of heavy clouds, 
that has never broken but once since men have observed 
it. These clouds mean that it will reflect a tremendous 
amount of light, and so it does. In fact so brilliant is 
the planet from our earth that it can be seen at midday, 
when in the right position, and on moonless nights, 
will cast a shadow. 

“The mass is about 82 per cent, that of the earth, so 
that the gravitational force will he about 85 per cent, 
due to the lesser radius. Thus Wade, who weighs al- 
most exactly 200, will weigh about 170 there. 

“The very clouds that hide the surface from us, show 
that the planet has a deep atmosphere. Measurements, 
made of the amount of heat radiated from the night side 
of the planet as long ago as 1928 showed that the 
amount of heat radiated required that the planet have 
a fairly short day. The absence of markings in the 
smooth layer of clouds makes it impossible to know the 
length of the day. The only time there was any break 
in the clouds was about four centuries ago. when two 
men observed the break, which lasted several days, and 
each got a result for the length of the day, but the 
results were rather surprising! One was twenty-three 
hours, and the other twenty-four days. They can, how- 
ever, be reconciled. If the one man observed the break 
in the clouds once each night that it lasted, at the same 
hour, he would see that, in twenty-four hours, the 
twenty-three-hour planet would have made one turn, and 
a bit more. In twenty-four days he would have found 
that it was again as it was the first night, for the planet 
would have gained one revolution on the earth. There 
are obviously two possible interpretations. 

“Venus is the planet of mystery — most like the earth, 
it is ever shrouded in clouds. 

“It is but 67,000,000 miles from the sun, and we are 
particularly fortunate in that next spring it will be in 
conjunction with the earth, and we will be but about 
thirty-five million miles from it. 

“As you see I rather favor Venus — it is a mystery, 
and we could leave the car to explore that planet. 

“Mars is next to be considered. It is now at su- 
perior conjunction, or about two hundred and thirty 
million miles off. I think that eliminates it for the 
present, and into the bargain, no human being could 
live on that planet by any stretch of the imagination. 


710 


AMAZING STORIES 


Ih daytime he would almost fry, and at night freeze 
solid. That life might develop there is certainly con- 
ceivable, but we would not be able to explore it. It is 
also too small to have a very dense atmosphere. 

“Jupiter, the giant of the Solar system is next. Did 
you know that at one time, people on a planet circling 
one of the nearer stars would have said the sun was a 
double star? When Jupiter was first thrown off from 
the sun it was a mighty glowing sea of fire, of about 
one one-hundredth the brilliance of the sun. This 
would certainly be recorded as a double star. Jupiter, 
whose mass is about one one-thousandth that of the sun, 
is big enough to swing it a bit. The center of gravity 
of the solar system is not in the center of the sun, but 
leans toward Jupiter quite appreciably. 

“Jupiter has so great a mass that the gravity would 
be fatal, but the quick rotation so reduces it, by centrif- 
ugal force, that a man might be able to stand it. Though 
Jupiter measures a quarter of a million miles around at 
the Equator, it spins on its axis once every ten hours — 
or really a bit less. 

“Jupiter is certainly very interesting in itself, but 
there are even more interesting things about it, for it is, 
as I said, a sort of a second, smaller sun in the solar 
system, a cold sun now it is true, but still a sun. Like 
the greater sun, it has a system of planets, more or less 
extensive. Some, indeed, are larger than some of the 
planets of the sun. Both Mercury and Mars are smaller 
than Gai\ymede, the largest of Jupiter’s satellites. This 
might be well worth exploring, but it too has such a 
small size that there is no great atmosphere. We can 
not leave the car, and there is no great joy in exploring 
a planet unless you can really get out and stand upon 
its surface. Of course we can use altitude suits, and 
so make our explorations, but the temperature is so 
low, and the air so rare, we would be sure to need oxygen 
tanks and heaters. 

"The outer planets all have one big difficulty — there 
are so many asteroids in the ring of asteroids, we will 
be greatly menaced by them. And into the bargain they 
are so far away that I think we had best wait till later 
trips. That leaves the choice really between Mars, Venus, 
and Mercury. The choice as far as I see it is not very 
great. What do you vote?’’ 

“Well, I quite agree with you Arcot — it is more 
fun to explore an unknown planet than one that can be 
observed telescopically. I vote Venus,” said Morey. 
Each of the others agreed with Morey that Venus was 
the logical choice. 

By this time the machine had sunk to the roof of 
their apartment, and the men disembarked and entered, 
The next day they were to start the actual work of 
designing the car ! 

T T was late the next morning when they began their 
A work, for it had been well after two when they 
finally reached the apartment. But when they had be- 
gun the job, it went forward steadily till the light faded 
that evening. So absorbed were they that noon and lunch 
hour passed unnoticed. 

“When we start this work,” Arcot had begun, “we 
want to first design the ship for the conditions we ex- 
pect to meet, and for the maximum convenience and 
safety. I believe I have thought of this trip longer than 
the rest of you, and for this reason I will give my ideas 
of what will give the greatest safety. 


"Venus is probably a younger planet than the earth. It 
is far nearer the sun than we. and gets twice the heat 
that the earth does. In the long-gone time when the 
planets were cooling I believe that Venus required far 
longer than earth, for the inpouring heat would tend to 
prevent its cooling. I imagine Venus today as a mighty 
world of rolling oceans of water, that beats on rugged 
shores of rocky islands, small spots of land in the vast 
watery area, while frequent fogs and mists swirl about 
the low hills, and through it all a tremendous oppressing 
heat burns down through the thick clouds. The sur- 
face temperature is probably about 150 degrees 
Fahrenheit. 

“There is little land, for Venus has no moon, and 
hence there has been no great tendency for the water 
to collect in any one place. The gigantic hollow that 
was left when the mbon was torn free of earth made 
a great basin that caught the water, and left vast areas 
of land dry. 

“On Venus there was no such basin, and there is 
probably little dry land. 

“What life has developed must be largely aquatic, 
and the land is probably far behind in evolution. Then 
again — Venus is the planet of mystery — we can only 
guess. But we do know what things we are going td 
need and what we will need to cross space. 

“Of course the main driving force will be the power 
units. These will get their energy from the rays of the 
sun by absorbing them in a great copper disc about 
twelve feet in diameter — the ship will have to be more 
of a disc than a cylinder. I think a ship a hundred and 
eighty feet long, fifty feet wide, and twenty feet deep 
will be about the best dimensions. The power units 
will be strung along the top of the ship in double rows — 
one down each side of the roof. In the middle of the 
roof will be a series of fused quartz windows, opening 
into a large room just under the outer shell of the ship. 
We will obviously need some source of power to activate 
the power tubes that run the molecular motion-power 
units. We will have a generator run by molecular 
motion-power units in here, absorbing its heat from the 
atmosphere in this room. The air will be heated by the 
rays of the sun of course, and in this way we will get 
all our power from the sun itself. 

“Lest this absorption of energy result in making the 
ship too cool, due to the radiation of the other side 
away from the sun, we will polish it, and thus reduce 
the unlighted side’s radiation. 

“The power units will not be able to steer us in 
space, for they will all be on the roof, and those on the 
sides, which will steer us in the atmosphere by the 
usual method, will be unable to get the sun’s power ; they 
will be shaded. For this steering in space, we will use 
atomic hydrogen rockets, storing the atomic gas by the 
Wade method in huge tanks in the hold. We will also 
have a battery down there for starting the generator and 
for emergencies. The air will be swept free of carbon 
dioxide by bubbling it through water under very high 
pressure, when the highly soluble carbon dioxide will 
remain in solution. It will be easy to keep the air clean 
and moist in this way, and at the same time remove 
the carbon dioxide into space. The water can, of course, 
be freed of the gas, aftd used again. Since we will have 
plenty of power, this system will be less bulky than 
the chemical absorption method, and more enduring. 
We will carry an emergency chemical plant however — 


SOLARITE 


711 


“The oxygen will be stored under very high pressure 
in tanks distributed all over the ship — anywhere so they 
will fill-in loose space that has no other use. We will 
carry a six months' supply. We will also carry an 
electrolysis outfit for turning water into oxygen and 
hydrogen. We can use the heat of Venus’ atmosphere to 
run the generator and break up the water, then com- 
press it and recharge the tanks, while the hydrogen 
will be broken into atoms, and used to recharge the 
atomic hydrogen tanks. 

"The most important single piece of equipment will 
be the apparatus for avoiding meteorites. There is 
really no tremendous number of them at this season, 
but we must be protected against them — for it only 
takes one of them to finish us! The idea I had in mind 
was to take advantage of the usual form of radio alti- 
meter, depending on the reflection of the radio wave 
from any material object. We can have a series of them 
scattered all about the ship — each pointing in a different 
direction. If anything comes within a hundred miles 
of us the altimeter covering that sector will at once set 
automatic machinery in operation, and the rockets will 
shoot the ship out of the path of the meteor. We will 
need greater accelerations than the power units can 
give us in space. Of course, in the air the power units 
are very powerful, but in space the sun will not supply 
heat very fast. The absorption discs will be made to 
lie flat to the side of the ship, of course, and painted 
dull black to absorb every bit of energy. In the air they 
will be fully efficient and have very little resistance, for 
they will cut the air like a knife.” 

All that day Arcot and the other men discussed the 
various pieces of apparatus they would need, and toward 
evening Fuller began to draw rough sketches of the 
different machines, the mechanism that had been agreed 
upon. 

The next day, toward evening, they had really solved 
the rough details of the ship, but now began the greater 
task of calculating the stresses and the power factors. 

“We won’t need any tremendous strength for the 
ship while it is in space, for then there will be little 
strain on it. It will be weightless from the start, and 
the gentle acceleration will not strain it in the least, 
but we must have strength, so that it can maneuver 
in the atmosphere. 

“Remember, when we leave earth we will do it by 
centrifugal force, for I can make much better speed 
in the atmosphere where there is plenty of power to 
draw on, than in space where I am dependent on the 
slow absorption of the sun’s energy. We will start alwut 
the earth, forming an orbit just within the atmosphere, 
that is going at five miles a second. Then gradually we 
can increase the speed to ‘about ten miles a second. 
At that speed the ship will tend to fly off the earth 
under its own centrifugal force; earth’s gravity will no 
longer hold it. We _will have to use the power units 
working downward to keep it from flying into space 
before we are ready. Then when we do release it, it 
will be entirely free of the earth, and no more work 
will be needed to overcome the earth’s pull. 

“We are, on the earth, going 19 miles a second about 
the sun, so in space we would still be going at that 
rate, and would remain a captive of the mighty sun, 
rotating in the earth’s orbit, yet not attached to earth, 
for any body rotating at 19 miles a second about the 
sun- will automatically fall into the earth’s orbit. 


“Venus rotates at 12 miles a second. To reach 
Venus we will not start toward it, but will use our 
acceleration azvay from it. This will slow the car in 
its rotation about the sun, and it will fall toward the 
center of attraction. The fall will, however, restore some 
of its speed, and a new orbit will be formed. This 
process will be continued, falling from orbit to orbit, 
till we at last fall into the orbit of Venus, and then we 
will let Venus catch us in its gravity, and we will fall 
to the planet. A similar process, reversed, would carry 
us to Mars. If we were to force the car toward the 
sun by means of the power units without slowing down 
its rotational speed, the moment we released the power, 
the ship would bounce back to the earth’s orbit like a 
ball on the end of a rubber band! 

“When we leave earth — at ten miles a second, as 
I said — we will shoot off in the direction that will op- 
pose the earth’s movement, thus reducing our orbital 
speed of 10 miles a second, and causing us to fall in 
toward the sun. Of course we will gain speed again 
by the fall, so we will not fall beyond the orbit we 
want, but the trip will be tremendously shortened, and 
the higher the speed of leaving the earth, the quicker 
the trip .” This came from Arcot. 

T HE plans continued with exasperating slowness. 

The details of the work were amazingly complex, 
for all the machines were totally new. It was close 
to a week before even the power units could be or- 
dered and the first work on the ship started. After 
that the orders for materials left the office daily. Still, 
it was late in November before the last order was sent 
out. Now they must begin work on other parts of the 
expedition — food supplies and the standard parts of 
the equipment. Also Arcot had decided to make a special 
ventilated suit. This was to make use of a small mole- 
cular motion director apparatus to cool the air, and blow 
it through the suit. The energy extracted by the ap- 
paratus in blowing the air about would cool it to a more 
comfortable temi>crature, for Arcot expected to find 
the temperature alxiut 150 degrees, and so moist as to 
be unbearable, and eventually fatal to men of earth. 
The apparatus consisted of a small compressed air- 
driven generator and a power tube bank that could be 
carried on the back. It weighed, complete, about fifty 
pounds, but due to the lesser gravity of Venus this 
would be reduced to about 43 pounds, and that was 
but about fifteen pounds more than the difference that 
gravity would make on the weights of the men them- 
selves. 

"Arcot,” Wade had said when he saw the apparatus 
completed and the testing machine ready, “I was just 
noticing how similar that is to the portable invisibility 
apparatus I developed as the Pirate. I wonder if it 
might not be handy at times to be invisible — we could 
incorporate that with a slight change. It would not 
add more than five pounds, and those tubes you are using 
are easily strong enough to carry the extra load.” 

The invisibility apparatus Wade mentioned was the 
electro-induction apparatus he had invented that past 
summer, and by which he had been able to enter the 
planes of The Transcontinental Lines unseen. It had 
been known that X-Rays penetrated metal by setting the 
molecules in rapid oscillation in step with themselves, 
then passing readily through the vibrating molecules. 
Wade had applied this principle to light — but in order 


712 


AMAZING STORIES 


to set up the vibration that made all substances per- 
fectly transparent, he had used very short radio waves ; 
the electrostatic conditions would set the molecules in 
vibration, and at once they were made perfectly trans- 
parent. The invisibility was almost perfect, and when 
the ship was in the air, it was utterly impossible to see it. 

“Great idea, Wade,” said Arcot. “It might be very 
useful if we met some savages. The disappearance stunt 
would make us gods or something. And now that you 
mention it, I think we can install the apparatus in the 
ship. It will require almost no power, and might save 
our lives some time.” 

Undoubtedly it was this simple suggestion of Wade’s 
that led to the eventual salvation, not only of the ex- 
pedition itself, but of two worlds. 

The work was going on steadily now at the great 
Transcontinental Shops where the machine was being 
made. The manufacture was being kept as much of a 
secret as possible, for Arcot feared the interference of 
the crowds that would be sure to collect, and since the 
ships directly adjoined the air field, it meant that there 
would be helicopters buzzing about the Transatlantic and 
Transcontinental planes. 

The work to be done required the most careful 
manipulation and workmanship, for one defect in space 
meant death. The trip would take them six days, and 
in the three days before they could reach either planet, 
much might happen to a crippled ship. 

To the men who were making the trip, the waiting 
seemed most exasperating, and they spent the days 
before they could begin the installation of the electrical 
apparatus in the completed hull in purchasing the neces- 
sary standard equipment, the standard coils, tubes, con- 
densers, the canned food supplies, clothes, everything 
that they could imagine as of possible utility. They 
were making the ship with a great deal of empty storage 
space, for Arcot hoped the trip would be a financial 
success. 

The crust of the earth, that part of the earth that man 
can hope to use as sources of supplies, is built up of 
ninety-two elements. But of these ninety-two, seven 
account for more than 98 per cent of the material, one 
alone, oxygen, accounts for 50 per cent, and after 
oxygen comes silicon, which Represents 28 per cent. The 
first seven elements are oxygen, silicon, aluminum, iron, 
calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium. Of these 
seven elements, each one of which represents a higher 
percentage of the material than all the other eighty-five 
elements combined, there are three that man can use as 
building materials. Aluminum, iron, and magnesium are 
useful metals, but quartz, silicon dioxide, is the only 
other useful building material obtainable from that list. 
And not all of those 92 had been discovered in 2116. 

These small percentages of copper, zinc, lead, chro- 
mium, tungsten, beryllium, manganese, molybdenum, 
silver, platinum, and vanadium meant a starvation of 
metals. Platinum was exhausted already; iridium was 
gone; copper was nearly exhausted; silver was becom- 
ing more and more important as the other metals be- 
came rare; lead was now so rare that it was cheaper 
to line acid vats w.ith silver than with lead. 

But there were many uses for which the metals were 
irreplaceable. Arcot hoped, with reason, that Venus 
might yield vast new sources of these nigh-exhausted 
metals. Our civilization is founded on metals, and it is 
only through them that it can remain strong. We must 


get new sources, or civilization will be lost. Arcot 
hoped to find such sources on Venus, and the ship was 
prepared to carry back samples of the ones found. 

On the outward trip some of this space would be 
filled with the many things that they would consume 
cn route. In addition they were carrying a great many 
spare parts, spare tubes, spare power units, spare con- 
densers — a thousand and one odd parts. Arcot intended 
that they should be able to make an entire new power 
switchboard and motion director unit if anything should 
go wrong, and he certainly had all the apparatus. As we 
know now, it was well he provided it. 

At last came the day when the last connection had 
been soldered, and the last joint welded. The atomic 
hydrogen tanks had been filled, and under the ship's 
own power the oxygen tanks were filled and the battery 
was charged. They were ready for a test flight ! 

The great ship was standing on the floor of the shed 
now, waiting the start. 

“Oh fellows — come here a minute!” Arcot called to 
the other members of the party. “I want to show you 
something.” 

T HE other men walked quickly to the bow where 
Arcot was standing, and followed the line of his 
vision, looking in wonder to see that everything was 
right. They turned curiously to him, and he pulled 
from his coat a large glass bottle, sealed shut. 

“What’s that for?” asked Wade curiously. 

“We are about to start on the first cruise, and I 
have been wondering if it isn’t time we gave the machine 
a name?” 

“Great — I had been thinking of that too — what are we 
going to name her?” 

“Well,” said Arcot, “I had been thinking of Alex- 
ander — he longed for other worlds to conquer !” 

“That’s a good one — I have been thinking of naming 
it too — I guess we all have — but I was thinking of 
Santa Maria — the first ship to discover the New World," 
suggested Morey. 

"I was thinking more of its home,” said Wade. “I 
was thinking of calling it Terrcstrian. 

“Well — it’s your turn, Fuller — you designed it. What 
do you suggest for your masterpiece?” asked Arcot. 

“I was thinking also of its home — the home it will 
never leave. I like to think that we might find people 
on Venus, and I would like to have a name on it that 
might be translatable into more friendly and less foreign 
terms — why not call it Solarite?” 

" Solaritc — a member of the solar system — it will be 
that, always — it will be a world unto itself when it 
makes its trips — it will take up an orbit about the sun — 
a true member of the solar system. I heartily agree 
with that name.” Arcot turned to the others. It was 
agreed upon unanimously. 

“But still I am curious about that glass bottle ; it is so 
carefully sealed, rather imagine that there is some gas 
in there — but what is the object?” asked Morey with 
a puzzled smile. 

“Wrong — it hasn’t any gas in it — which is the reason 
for sealing it so carefully. What more appropriate for 
christening a space ship than a bottle of high-grade 
vacuum ? 

“We can’t have a pretty girl christen this ship, that’s 
sure. A flying bachelor’s apartment christened by a 
mere woman? Never! We will have the foreman of 


SOLARITE 


713 


the works here do that. Since we can’t have the ship 
slide down the ways or anything, we will get inside and 
move it when he smashes the bottle. But in the mean- 
time, let’s have a symbol painted on the bow. We can 
have a blazing sun, with eight planets circling it, and 
the earth painted very much more conspicuously ; below 
it we can have SOLARITE printed.” 

The christening took place, and at last the ship was 
ready for the first trip into its natural medium — nothing. 
They were rising smoothly now, high into the air! At 
last they disappeared from the sight of the ground crew. 
It was shortly after noon when they left, but the sun 
was a great ball of fire low in the west when they re- 
turned, dropping plummet-like from the depths of space, 
the roar of the air about the hull, a long scream that 
mounted from a half-heard sound in the outer limits of 
the earth’s atmosphere, to a roar of whining air as the 
ship dropped swiftly to the field and shot quickly into 
the hangar. Instantly the crew was running to the 
side of the ship, as the door of the ship opened. Some- 
thing was wrong! 

“Hey, Jackson — call the field doctor — Arcot had a 
little trouble out there in space I” In a moment the man 
designated was returning with the doctor, leading him 
swiftly down the long metal corridor of the Solaritc to 
Arcot’s room aboard. 

There was a mean-looking cut in Arcot’s scalp, but it 
was not serious, though he had been knocked uncon- 
scious by the blow that made the cut. 

"How did this happen?” asked the doctor as he 
bathed the cut and deftly bandaged it. 

“There is a mechanism on board here that is desig- 
nated to get the car out of the way of meteors while we 
are in space, and it works automatically. Arcot and I 
were just changing places at the controls. During the 
time while neither of us was strapped into the seats, 
a meteor came within range and the rocket tubes shot 
the car out of the way. We both went tumbling over to 
the side of the ship as it jumped, and Arcot landed on 
his car. I was luckier, and was able to break my fall 
with my hands, and then land on my chest, but it was 
a mean fall — for under the great acceleration developed 
we had about double weight, so, though it was only 
about seven feet, we might as well have fallen fourteen,” 
explained Morey. “We took turns piloting the ship, and 
Arcot, who started, was about to bring us back, when 
that shock just about shook us all over the ship. We 
will have to fix that!” 

The doctor was through now, and he began to revive 
his patient. In a moment he stirred and raised his hand 
to feel the sore spot. He was not yet fully conscious. 
In ten minutes he was conversing with his friends, how- 
ever, slightly the worse for a very severe headache. 
The doctor gave him a mild opiate, and had him sleep 
off the effect of the blow in the car. The room where 
he was had been designed for his use, and was already 
fully equipped. 

“Doctor Bailey, would you like to look over the ship ?” 
asked Wade. 

Naturally the doctor was quick to take the chance, 
and they started forward to the control room. Here 
the great fused quartz windows gave them a clear view 
in all directions except to the rear. There were five 
seats arranged in a semicircle before the main front 
window. The central seat was equipped with arms as 
broad as small tables, and on these arms there were 


instruments and controls. In the rear of the room was 
the main manual control board, its broad black surface 
dotted with dials and controls in a sequence unintelligible 
to the doctor. 

“This is the main control board here — the ship can 
be controlled entirely from this point. The controls 
that we will actually use in most of the maneuvers, the 
speed control, the directional control, the ones that con- 
trol our simple motions, are handled from the pilot seat 
there. That is the system used in working while in the 
atmosphere when we will be turning quickly. In space, 
if we do take over the manual control, the machine will 
be controlled from this board. As a matter of fact the 
course will be worked out by the mechanical director 
apparatus downstairs. The power room is a combined 
chemistry and physics laboratory, and automatic control 
room. I will start the generator, and you can listen to 
the relays down there automatically adjusting to the 
load. At the same time you will hear it sucking air 
in through the vent to warm the molecular director 
power units that drive it. When in the atmosphere, it 
pulls in air to warm it — out in space it gets heat from 
the sun.” 

They left the pilot room and walked on down the 
long corridor. On either side of the metal-walled hall 
there were rooms, and along the roof of the corridor 
there was a series of rungs like the steps of a ladder. 

“What is the purpose of those rungs there?” asked 
the doctor curiously. 

“Those arc for descending the ship in space. We will 
have acceleration forward only, and when we are in 
space the back of the ship is down. That is why I 
say the power room is downstairs — it is the last room 
in the ship. In space we actually slide down that pole 
there; it is easier and quicker. Holding on with one 
hand, we can break the hundred and twenty foot fall 
easily, for the acceleration, and hence our weight, will 
lie very small. Did you notice that the beds are ar- 
ranged to strap the sleeper in position? The changing 
acceleration would throw him all over if we didn’t. 
The walls of the ship are made of steel, the usual 
tungsten iron alloy and are highly magnetic. The 
result is, it is easy to walk about by means of magnetic 
shoes. The side walls will be the floor, and that will 
complicate matters, but we thought it best to design 
the ship for maneuvering in the air of some planet, 
since it is fully automatic in space. 

“There are six bedrooms. There are only four going 
on this first trip, but that provides for future use. There 
is, of course, a kitchen also — but most of these rooms 
are storage rooms. There is a large battery just under 
the floor here, and beside it, filling in the curve of the 
ship, a large water tank. These are within the double 
walls of the ship, where it will be warm, to prevent 
the possibility of freezing them. We are expecting a 
warm climate on the planet Venus, so we are pro- 
tecting the occupants of the ship from the heat while 
we are there by having double walls, with a vacuum in 
between. Hear that low hum? There are large gyro- 
scopic stabilizers exactly in the center of the ship, hold- 
ing it stable along all three axes, length, breadth and 
height.” 

Arcot spent the night aboard the ship, to wake the 
next morning feeling fully recovered, while the wound 
in his scalp was fully healed now, by the action of the 
saiwernite used in dressing it. 


714 


AMAZING STORIES 


T HE ship was fully equipped now, and the time for 
leaving had been set for the following Saturday, 
three days off. There were great supplies of stores to 
be carried aboard in the meantime, and the men worked 
busily carrying the packages aboard, and storing them 
carefully. Great care had to be exercised in this work, 
lest the cargo slip free when the accelerations of the 
Solarite were varying, and batter itself to pieces, or even 
wreck some vital part of the ship. It was nearly noon 
Saturday before they could say that the first ship that 
ever was to leave the bounds of the earth’s gravity was 
ready to start ! 

Gently the heavily laden ship lifted from the floor, and 
slowly it went out into the bright sunshine of the early 
February day. Beside it was riding the little ship that 
Arcot had first built, piloted by the father of the in- 
ventor of the ships. With him rode the elder Morey 
and a dozen pressmen. The little ship was badly crowded 
now as they slowly rose high into the upper reaches of 
the earth’s atmosphere. The sky about them was grow- 
ing dark — they were going into space! 

At last they reached the ultimate ceiling of the smaller 
ship, and it hung there while the Solarite went a few 
miles higher, then slowly, but ever faster and faster they 
were plunging ahead, gathering speed, they watched the 
radio speedometer creep up — 1 — 2 — 3 — 4 — 5 — 6 — stead- 
ily it was rising as the acceleration pressed them hard 
against the back of the seats — 8 — 9— —still it was rising 
as the hum of the generator back there became a low 
snarl — 10 — 11 — 12 — they were rocketing at twelve miles 
a second, the thin air about the ship was shrieking in a 
thin scream of protest as it parted on the streamlined 
bow. The vertical power units were driving the ship 
toward earth — still it hung on the centrifugal force — 
they seemed flung from earth with a weight of more 
than 300 pounds apiece. Even this thin air offered 
considerable resistance at this terrific speed, and the 
thin air gave little heat so the power was low — still 
the speed rose slowly — and reached fifteen miles a sec- 
ond. Now the sun was really pulling them; they were 
falling toward the sun — away from the earth — the shrill 
screech of the air outside could not reach them through 
the vacuum walls, but there was a microphone on the 
outside that they might hear, and through the loud 
speaker in the control room came the thin wail of the 
air — then Arcot shouted to them in warning; 

“Hold on — we are going to lose weight — out into 
space !” 

There was a click, and a sudden sensation of falling — 
the ship seemed to reel beneath them — the angry snarl 
of the overworked generator died in an instant as the 
thudding relays cut it out of the circuit — they seemed 
falling with terrific and ever-increasing speed — they 
looked down — saw the earth shrinking visibly as they 
shot away at more than five miles a second — they were 
traveling fifteen miles a second ahead and five a second 
straight up. The men were watching with intensest in- 
terest as the heavens opened up to them — the air was 
left far behind, and they could see stars now a scant 
degree from the sun itself, for no air diffused his 
blinding glory. The heat of the rays seemed to burn 
them, there was a prickling pleasantness to it now, as 
tljey looked at the mighty sea of flame through smoked 
glasses. The titanic flames of the corona reached out 
like the arms of some flaming octopus through thousands 
of miles of space — huge arms of flaming gas that 


writhed out in vain attempts to reach and 'drag back 
the whirling planets to the parent body. All about the 
mighty sphere, stretching far into space, a wan glow 
seemed to ebb and flow, a flow of swift-changing color, 
mighty streamers of light that waved and fluttered a 
million miles in space. The colors seemed to flow with 
majestic slowness, but it was only the mighty scope of 
the thing that gave it this appearance, for these colors 
flashed about at close to the speed of light. It was the 
zodiacal light, an aurora borealis on a scale incon- 
ceivable 1 

Arcot was working rapidly with the controls, the 
absence of weight that gave that continued sense of an 
unending fall, aided him and his assistants now in their 
rapid work of changing the controls from an air flyer 
to a space ship. The air scoop that had carried the air 
to the generator was closed off in a moment; there was 
a hiss of gas as the air was flooded into the room, and 
a moment later the hull vibrated with the acceleration 
of the generator as it again picked up speed. With the 
leaving of the air that warmed and drove it, as they fell 
out into space, the machine had been robbed of its 
source of power, and it had stopped. Now again it 
was working smoothly, using the heat of the sun. The 
lights of the ship flashed on again as the machine gained 
speed, and they had some slight weight once more as 
the steady pull of the power units recommenced, the 
pull that would continue unceasingly till they at last 
fell into the atmosphere of Venus. 

At last the work was done and the ship was going 
on its way under the control of the instruments that 
would guide it across all the millions of miles of space 
and land it on Venus with the unerring certainty of 
a machine. The photo-electric telescopic eye was watch- 
ing the planet constantly, keeping the ship surely and 
accurately on the course that would get them to the 
distant planet in the minimum of time. 

"Better start the ozonator, Wade — we don’t want to 
get an overdose of ultra-violets! We will be able to 
look around in a minute — and for the next five days or 
so we will have the same things to look at 1” said Arcot. 

The ozonator was a simple apparatus designed to 
keep the correct amount of ozone in the air of the ma- 
chine, for on earth there is a layer of the gas in the 
atmosphere that filters the sunlight to the same type 
of rays at all times, the type that the human body has 
become accustomed to. Through countless eons man 
has lived in this environment, and this is what he must 
have. Less, as was found out in the first half of the 
twentieth century would result in disease; more would 
result in burns. 

The ozone was the gas that regulated the supply in 
such a way that man had become accustomed to it. Had 
there been none, man would have developed an ability 
to adjust himself to changes in ultra-violet light just as 
he has become accustomed to changes in temperature. 

At last the work of preparing the ship for the trip 
was over, and the men could rest and use their time to 
observe the beauties of the skies as no man had ever 
seen them during all the billions of years of time that 
this solar system has developed — unless it be, as some 
think, that Mercury once had a population ere it became 
the desert waste it is, and that all of us, all in the solar 
system, are descendants of that long dead race. 

The lack of atmosphere made it possible to use a power 
of magnification that no terrestrial telescope may use. 


SOLARITE 


715 


The blurred outlines produced by the shifting air pro- 
hibits magnifications of more than a few hundred diam- 
eters, but here in space they could use the greatest 
power of their telescope. With it they could look at 
Mars and see it more clearly than any other man had 
ever seen it, despite the fact that it was now over two 
hundred million miles away, and at times it comes to 
one sixth that distance from the earth. 

But though they spent much time taking photographs 
of the planets and of the moon, and in making spectrum 
analyses of the sun, they found the time passed very 
slowly. Day after day they saw measured on the clocks, 
but they stayed up, and found they needed little sleep, 
for they wasted no muscles. Their lack of weight 
made them lack fatigue. However, they determined 
that during the twelve hours before reaching Venus 
they must be thoroughly awake, so they tried to sleep 
in pairs just before coming near the planet. Arcot and 
Morey were the first pair to seek the arms of 
Morpheus — but Morpheus seemed to be a mundane god, 
for he did not reward them, and at last it became neces- 
sary to take a mild opiate, for their muscles refused 
to permit the tired brain to sleep. It was twelve hours 
later when they awoke, to relieve Wade and Fuller. 

They spent most of the twelve hours before them now 
in playing games of chess. There was little to be done. 
The silver globe before them seemed unchanging now, 
for they were still so far away it seemed little larger 
than the moon does when seen from earth. 

But at last it was time for the effects of the mild 
drug to wear off, and for Wade and Fuller to wake soon 
from their sleep. 

“Morey — I wonder if it might not be interesting to 
observe the reactions of a man waking suddenly from 
sleep to find himself alone in space?” 'Arcot was staring 
thoughtfully at the control that would make the ship per- 
fectly transparent, perfectly invisible. There was an 
expression of perfect innocence on his face — but a 
twinkle of humor in his eyes. 

“I wonder if it would?” said Morey grasping Arcot’s 
idea. “What do you say we try it?” Arcot turned the 
little switch — and where there had been the ship, it was 
no more — it was gone ! 

’C'ULLER stirred uneasily in his bed, tight strapped 
A as he was. The effects of the drug were wearing 
off. Sleepily he yawned — stretched, and blindly, his 
heavy eyes still closed, released the straps that held 
him in bed. Yawning widely he opened his eyes — with 
a sudden start he sat upright — then, after giving an 
excellent phonetic imitation of a wild Indian on the 
warpath, he leapt from his bed, and started to run 
wildly across the floor, his eyes raised to the place where 
the ceiling should have been — calling lustily in alarm — 
then suddenly he was flying up — and crashed heavily 
against the invisible ceiling! His face was a picture of 
utter astonishment as he fell lightly to the floor — then 
slowly it changed, and took on a chagrined smile — he 
understood ! 

He turned in amazement as loud cries suddenly re- 
sounded from Wade’s room across the hall — then there 
was a dull thud, as he too, forgetting the weightlessness, 
jumped and hit the ceiling. Then the cries were gone, 
like the snuffing of a candle. From the control room 
there sounded loud laughter — and a moment later they 
felt more normal, as they again saw the four strong 


walls about them, and could again see the feet they 
stood on. 

Quickly they dressed now, and each stepped out into 
the main hall, just in time to meet each other. 

“Wade, did you hear those two morons up there? 
Such a sense of humor! Well, I suppose we must 
expect such things from them. I think it should be 
a lesson to us not to trust anything so valuable as this 
ship in the hands of a weak-minded pair like that again. 
One of us must always be on guard,” said Fuller seri- 
ously — and rather loudly. 

Wade sighed heavily and shook his head. 

They were approaching the planet visibly now. In 
the twelve hours that had passed they had covered a 
million miles, for now they were falling into the planet 
under its attraction. It glowed before them now in 
wondrous splendour, a mighty disc of molten silver, 
far more beautiful than the moon ever was — a silver 
that made the moon a dull and tarnished globe in com- 
parison. The strength of the reflected light was such 
that at their present distance of three quarters of a 
million miles it was almost uncomfortably bright. They 
could read a book with ease. 

For the last twenty-four hours they had been trying 
to reduce their speed relative to Venus, lest they be 
unable to form an orbit about the planet, and shoot 
around it and back into space. Their velocity had been 
over a hundred miles a second part of the way, but 
now it had been reduced to ten. The gravity of the 
planet was urging them forward at ever increasing 
speed, and their problem was more difficult to solve. 

“We will never make it on the power units alone, 
out here in space,” said Arcot seriously— “We will just 
shoot around it. I tell you how we can do it, though. 
We will go around it, entering its atmosphere on the 
daylight side, so that we won’t be frozen to death in 
its shadow, and shoot into the upper limits of its at- 
mosphere. There the power units will find some heat 
to work on, and we can really slow down. But we 
will have to use the rocket tubes to get the acceleration 
we will need to drive the ship into the air.” 

There was a sudden clanging of a large bell — every- 
one dived for a hold, and held tightly. Not an instant 
later then there was a terrific wrench as the rocket 
avoiding mechanism threw the plane out of the way 
of a meteorite. 

“We are getting near a planet. That is the third 
meteorite we have met since we were ;nore than a 
million miles from earth. Venus and earth and all the 
planets act like giant vacuum cleaners of space, pulling 
into themselves all the meteorites within millions of 
miles by their gravitational attraction,” 

Swiftly the planet before them was expanding — grow- 
ing each instant vaster. It had changed from a disc to a 
globe, and now, as the molten silver of its surface 
seemed swiftly clouding, it turned grey; then they saw 
the true appearance, a vast field of rolling, billowing 
clouds 1 

They were shooting about the planet now at ten miles 
a second, far more than enough to carry them away 
from the planet again, out into space once more if not 
checked. 

“Hold on everybody— we are going to turn toward 
the planet now !” Arcot depressed a small lever— there 
was a sudden shock, and all the space about them was a 
blazing furnace of huge, deep-red atomic hydrogen flames. 


716 


AMAZING STORIES 


The ship reeled under the sudden pressure, but the 
heavy gyroscopic stabilizers caught it, held it, and the 
ship remained on an even keel. Then suddenly there 
came to the ears of the men a long drawn whine, faint 
— almost inaudible — but there it was — the ship seemed 
slowing down. The loud-speaker was rapidly increasing 
its power — the Solaritc was entering the atmosphere of 
a new world — the first machine that man ever made to 
thus penetrate the air of other worlds ! 

Arcot was working busily now — quickly he snapped 
open the control that had kept the rocket flaming, turn- 
ing the ship to the planet — driving it into the atmosphere 
— now they could get their power from the air that each 
instant grew more dense about them. 

“Wade — in the power room — emergency control post 
— Morey — control board there — hang on, for we will 
have to use some husky accelerations." 

Instantly the two men were diving for their posts — 
literally diving, for they were still nearly weightless. 

Arcot pulled another lever — there was a dull snap as a 
relay in the power room responded — then the lights 
wavered — dimmed — then in an instant the generator was 
once more humming smoothly — working on the atmos- 
phere of V enus ! 

Working feverishly now — they had but a short time 
to change back from space-ship to air-ship — in the at- 
mosphere of a new world. In a moment the power 
units were again operating, and now they produced a 
force that made the men grasp their holds tightly, as 
they sucked a plenitude of power from the surrounding 

The loud-speaker had shrieked louder and louder, till 
it poured forth a deafening wave of sound. Now it was 
silent, for Fuller had opened the circuit. Around them 
the rapidly increasing density of the air made the whine 
grow to a roar — the ship was growing slightly warm 
from air friction, despite the extremely cold air at this 
altitude — more than seventy-five miles yet from the sur- 
face of the planet. 

They were dropping rapidly now — their radio-speed- 
ometer had fallen from ten to nine — then slowly, but 
faster and faster as more heat could be extracted from 
the air it had fallen 8 — 7 — 6 — 5 — 4 — now they were well 
under orbital speed, falling under the influence of the 
planet, the struggle was over — the men seemed to loosen 
up, the ship was running quietly now, the smooth hum 
of the air rushing over the great power units coming 
softly through the speaker again, a humming melody in 
their ears — the song of a new world. 

S UDDENLY the blazing sun was gone — they were 
floating in a vast world of rolling mists — mists that 
struck the car with tiny clicks, which, in the millions of 
particles that were hitting each instant, summed up to a 
steady roar in the microphone. 

“Ice — ice clouds! We will drop down below the 
clouds, probably they extend for miles. Look, already 
they are changing — snow now — in a moment it will be 
water — then it will clear away — and we will be in the 
steaming air of Venus !” 

For ten miles — ten endless miles it seemed they dropped 
through clouds utterly impenetrable to the eye — then 
slowly the clouds became thinner; there appeared brief 
clear spots, spots into which they could see short dis- 
tances — then here and there they caught glimpses of 
green below — was it water? or land? 


Then with a suddenness that startled them, they were 
out of the clouds, shooting smoothly along at one mile 
a second over a broad plain — it seemed to stretch for 
endless miles across the globe, to be lost in the far dis- 
tance to the east and west, but to the north they saw a 
low range of hills that rose blue and misty in the distance. 

'‘Venus — We made it! The first men to ever leave 
earth — I'm going to start the old sender and radio back to 
them ! Man — look at that stretch of plain 1” Morey had 
jumped to his feet and was starting across the control 
room. “Lord — I feel like a ton of lead now — I sure am 
out of condition for walking after all that time just 
floating !” 

“Whoa — wait a minute there, Morey — you won’t get 
anything through to them. The earth is on the other side 
of Venus now — it is on the night side, remember — we are 
on the day side. There are 7700 miles of rock and 
metal between here and the free space — then it has 
45,000,000 miles or so to go before it hits the earth's 
atmosphere, and since you are using beam sending, it 
will have to penetrate the 8000 miles of earth before it 
reaches old New York. As I see it, we are now on the 
daylight side of this planet — which corresponds in time 
to the night side of earth. Thus, in about twelve hours 
we will be able to send a message. In the meantime, take 
the controls while I make a test of the air here, will you, 
Morey?” Arcot, relieved of the controls, rose and 
walked down the corridor to the power room where the 
chemical laboratory had been set up. Wade had already 
collected a dozen samples of air, and was working on 
them. 

“How is it — what have you tested for so far?” asked 
Arcot. 

“Oxygen and C0 2 . The oxygen is about twenty-two 
percent, or, considering the slightly lower air pressure 
here, we will have just about the right amount of oxygen. 
C0 2 is down to about one-tenth of one percent. That 
means that there must be a lot of animal life here con- 
sidering the obvious plenitude of vegetable life. 

“But one thing surprises me, I had a piece of titanium 
ribbon in there — the oxygen I took out with phosphorus, 
and it won’t burn. Titanium burns brilliantly in nitro- 
gen, of course — in the earth’s atmosphere the titanium 
will burn nearly as well after the oxygen is out as 
before. I can’t get it — the atmosphere is O.K. for ter- 
restrial life apparently; that mouse there is living quite 
happily.” 

“Whatever the other seventy-five percent or so of di- 
luting gas is, I don’t know. Of course, I took out the 
water — passed it over calcium oxide. Magnesium ribbon 
won’t burn in it, so it isn’t any oxide — though I couldn’t 
think of any it might be — if it were C0 2 it would dis- 
solve in the ocean at anywhere near that concentration. 
What do you make of it?” Wade was frankly stuck — 
it was beyond him. 

“Well — let’s see. That mouse is living peaceably long 
enough — so it ain’t be very deadly — I think it would like 
to smell it.” Arcot picked up the jar, and moved the 
glass cover to one side, and sniffed cautiously. “Quite 
odorless. I rather expected that — all gases that are rea- 
sonably inert are odorless. Is it very soluble in water? 
No, it can’t be — there are large oceans here all right — 
fifty percent humidity and the temperature at five miles 
is one-ten! A hundred and ten degrees five miles up! 
I wonder what it’s like at the surface — worse than 
Death Valley in July.” 


SOLARITE 


717 


“But let me see that gas again — what is the molecular 
weight of it ?” 

“Haven't made any careful measurements — couldn’t 
with the ship jumping as it has been — but as near as I 
can tell it is about 35 or 34 — nearer the 35.” 

“Hmmm, allowing it is an element — if it isn’t, either 
the magnesium or the calcium oxide should have done 
something to it — that means it isn’t chlorine — we knew 
that anyway — but that has a molecular weight of 71 ; it 
can’t be anything above that — wait a minute — of course 
— hooo — stupid — it’s argon! No wonder it wouldn’t at- 
tack magnesium or titanium! I wonder how we were 
so thick as to miss it! It is a little light — but I’ll bet 
there is considerable nitrogen in it and that would make 
it come down toward 28, and probably there is a lot 
of helium and neon and the other inert gases in it. But 
what an atmosphere! No great amount of nitrogen; 
that means that life will have a sweet time extracting it 
from the air — but wherever there is life — it finds a way 
of doing the impossible. Test it more accurately, will 
you — you try for nitrogen and I will try the component 
inert gases." 

They ran' the analysis rapidly, and in a very short 
time — less than an hour — their results stood at 23 per- 
cent oxygen, 14 percent carbon dioxide, 68 percent 
argon, 6 percent nitrogen, 2 percent helium, 5 percent 
neon, .05 percent hydrogen, and the rest krypton and 
xenon apparently. The analyses of these inert gases had 
to lie done rather roughly in this short time, but it was 
sufficient to balance fairly accurately. On ionizing the 
gas in a small tube, they found that, unlike the bluish 
glow of earth’s air it gave off a reddish grey color — a 
curious light of a ghostly hue. 

T HE two chemists reported back to the control cabin. 

The others had been observing everything within 
range with the aid of the small telescope they had brought 
along. The hills seemed quite distant, but Arcot pointed 
out that it would be a very misty day on earth now, with 
such a high humidity. The slight difference in the radius 
of curvature of the sphere was, of course, unnoticcable. 

"Well, we will be abl,e to breathe the atmosphere of 
Venus with ease. I believe .we can go on now. I have 
been surprised to see no water in sight, but I think I see 
my mistake now. You know the Mississippi has its 
mouth further from the center of the earth than its 
source ; it flows up hill ! The answer is, of course, that 
the centrifugal force of the earth’s spin makes it tend to 
flow in that way. Similarly, I am sure now that we will find 
that Venus has a vast belt of water about the middle, 
and to the north and south there will be two great caps 
of dry land. We are now on the northern cap. 

“We have the microphone turned way down. Let’s 
step up the power a bit and see if there are any sounds 
outside,” said Arcot and walked over to the power con- 
trol switch. An instant later the loud-speaker was hum- 
ming softly. There was a light breeze blowing. In the 
distance, though’, forming a dull background for the en- 
tire hum, there came a low rumbling that seemed punc- 
tuated now and then by a greater burst of speed. 

“Must be a long way off,” said Arcot, a puzzled frown 
on his face. “Swing the ship around so we can see in 
what direction the sound is loudest,” he suggested. 

Slowly Morey swung the ship around on its vertical 
axis. Without a doubt, something off in the direction of 
the hills was making a considerable noise. 


“Arcot — if that’s a fight between two animals — two 
of those giant animals that you said might be here — I 
don't care to get near them!” Fuller was listening to 
the sounds, and looking off across the plain to the low 
hills in the blue distance. 

“If it is two animals fighting — we will leave this planet 
while we still can ! Any animal that can make a racket 
like that — well, I don’t think it can exist!” Arcot was 
smiling to think of the size lungs that roar would 
require. 

The microphone was shut off while the Solarite shot 
swiftly forward toward the source of the sound. Quickly 
the hills werp growing, the blue mistiness disappeared, 
and they showed as bleak harsh rock ; hut as they came 
nearer they saw over the tops of the hills now, flashes of 
light that intermittently came into being. 

“A thunderstorm! Ho — that’s good — there is your 
animal, Fuller!” laughed Wade. 

“Not so fast, Wade — his animal is there — the only 
animal in all creation that can make a noise like that! 
Look through the tcjescope — see those dots wheeling 
about there above the flashing lights — there one got hit — 
there arc no clouds there — no thunderstorm — the only 
animal that can cause that racist is man! There are 
men over there — and they aren’t in a playful mood! 
Turn on the invisibility while we can, Morey — and let’s 
get nearer!" 

“Men — look out — here we go !” Morey slipped a tiny 
switch set in one side of the instrument panel — then, 
before the relay below could move, he had flipped it 
bade. 

“Here — you take it, Arcot — you always think about 
two steps ahead of me — you are quicker and know the 
machine better, anyway.” 

Quickly the two men changed places. 

“I don't know about that, Morey,” said a voice from 
the air — for Arcot had at once thrown the ship into in- 
visibility — the ship was gone like the light of an extin- 
guished candle. "The longer we stay here, the more 
mistakes I can sec that we made in our calculations of 
what would happen. I see wha.t put me off so badly on 
the estimate of the intelligence of people found on this 
planet! The sun gives it a double dose of heat — but 
also a double dose of X-Rays ! Since about 1928 it has 
been known that X-Rays speed evolution. Just the same, 
we may be able to find friends here more quickly if we 
aid one. side or the other in the very lively battle going 
on there. Now, before we go any further, we want to 
decide whether or not to aid either side." 

“I think it is a fine idea. But which side are we to 
aid — and what are the sides. We haven’t even seen them 
yet. Let’s go nearer and take a good look at them; 
certainly we ought to know that before we decide," said 
Fuller. 

“Yes — but are we going to join either side at all after 
looking?” 

“Oh, that's unanimous 1” said Wade, excitedly. 

Quickly the invisible ship darted forward. Soon they 
had passed the barrier of the low hills, and were again 
out on a broad plain. Suddenly all the men gasped in 
surprise ! Well they might ! There, floating high in the 
air, above a magnificent city, was a machine such as no 
man had ever before seen! A titanic airplane it was! 
Yet so monstrous, so gargantuan, that it beggared de- 
scription. Fully three-quarters of a mile the huge metal 
wings stretched out in the dull light of the cloudy Ve- 


718 


AMAZING STORIES 


nerian day ; such a titanic machine it was that 1 it seemed 
to dwarf even the mighty city beneath ! The roar of its 
mighty propellers came as a rumbling thunder to the 
Solarite. From it were coming the flashing bursts of 
flame. Now, on closer inspection, it was possible to 
make out what seemed a swarm of tiny gnats flying about 
the mighty plane. They seemed to be attacking the giant 
as vainly as the gnats might attack an eagle, and as fool- 
hardily, for they could riot damage the mighty machine. 
Their flashing bombs that rained down upon it burst in 
blasts of yellow flame as harmlessly as so many 
firecrackers. 

All that mighty machine was covered with heavy metal 
plates, ten inches thick, and of metal so tough that when 
the powerful bombs hit it they were ineffectual, though 
they blew great craters in the soil below. Yet from it 
poured a steady stream of bombs that seemed to burst 
with a great flash of heat and light, and in an instant the 
tiny planes they struck darted down an incandescent 
mass of metal. 

Yet the giant seemed unable to approach the city — or 
was it defending it? No, for it was from the city that 
the vainly courageous little ships poured out. But cer- 
tainly it was not these ships that kept the titanic battle- 
ship of the air at bay? 

C ONSTANTLY the great ship was sending its bombs 
toward the city, only to have them fall short of it. 
But slowly, around the city, there was appearing an area 
of red hot, molten rock and dirt, and steadily this was 
moving inward as more and more shells from the great 
plane struck it. Then suddenly the battleship of the air 
turned toward the city and made a short dash inward on 
its circling path. Instantly it was apparent why the ship 
had not attacked the city directly, for up from the ground, 
a few hundred feet from the ring of molten rock, there 
leaped a long ray of hissing white flame. It reached up 
and seemed almost to touch the great machine. Then, 
as the titanic plane rolled, and side-slipped out of the 
way, it passed, harmless, a little shy of the monstrous 
wing. 

"Which ? I say the city. No one should destroy so 
magnificent a city. Also they are losing, which will 
make our aid all the more welcome,” suggested Arcot. 

“The city it is, I guess.” All the others agreed, so 
Arcot started nearer. "But what in the world can we 
do to that huge thing? It has perfect invulnerability 
through size alone. It will be like attacking a battleship 
with a rowboat, as the old mariners would have said.” 
Fuller was looking fascinatedly at the scene before him 
—though no one could tell just where he was gazing, 
since the entire ship was as invisible as air. 

Now it seemed that one of the men of the city had a 
system to wreck the giant plane— the mighty propellers. 
There were fifty of these strung along each of the titanic 
wings ; the giant monoplane seemed to be vulnerable 
only there — for if enough of these could be broken, 
eventually they would be able to blow holes in its armor, 
while it lay helpless on the ground. They had apparently 
tried to bomb the gigantic metal blades, but the rushing, 
swirling air currents had thrown the bombs aside, or 
smashed them against the thick armor. Now one of the 
little planes darted forward and dove at full speed di- 
rectly against one of the propellers! But the sacrifice 
was in vain— there was indeed a terrific crash— ope that 
made the loud speaker in the invisible Solarite tremble. 


Yet the mighty blades were functioning as smoothly as 
ever! 

Indeed, it seemed that the Solarite would be as utterly 
helpless as any against that titanic machine. Now Arcot 
was climbing the machine high into the sky above the 
great plane. There was a full mile drop between them 
when he released the sustaining force of the Solarite 
and let it drop, straight toward the source of the battle — 
falling freely, ever more and more rapidly; they were 
pushing at the mighty plane below at a pace that made 
their hearts seem to pause — then suddenly Arcot cried 
out, “Hold on — here we stop!” — they seemed a scant 
hundred feet from the broad metal wings of the great 
plane, which was hanging beneath them, totally unaware 
of the Solarite. Then suddenly there was a tremendous 
jerk, and each man felt himself pressed to the floor of 
the machine with a terrific weight that made their backs 
crack with the load. Almost unconscious they seemed. 
Below them was nought but a mighty sea of roaring red 
flames — a hell of blazing gas that roared like a million 
bombs at once. The Solarite was sitting down on the 
rockets ! All six of the rocket tubes in the bottom of the 
car had been opened wide, and streaming from them in 
a mighty blast of incandescent gas, the atomic hydrogen 
was shooting out in a mighty column of gas at 3500 de- 
grees centigrade. In an instant the great plane was 
incandescent where the gas touched it, and in an interval 
so short that it was almost immeasurable, the fall of the 
Solarite had been checked, and it was rebounding high 
into the air again. As soon as Arcot could, he reached a 
hand that was weighted down with the load of six grav- 
ities and pulled shut the little control that had sent those 
mighty torches flaming out. Then an instant later they 
were racing ahead lest the plane shoot bombs toward the 
gas columns. 

Then at last they were able to look at their work ! No 
longer did they see the mighty plane unscathed, invul- 
nerable, for now there glowed six great craters of incan- 
descent metal that almost touched and coalesced. The 
great plane itself was reeling, staggering, plunging down- 
ward, but long before it reached the hard soil below it 
was brought out into level flight, and limping, for sev- 
eral of its engines were dead now, it circled and made off 
toward the south. The horde of small planes followed, 
dropping a rain of bombs into the glowing holes in the 
ship that made them grow swiftly larger. But now the 
men of the ship had to a large extent recovered from 
the shock of the attack and were fighting back. In a 
moment — just before the ship passed over the horizon 
and out of sight, the Terrestrians saw the great props 
that had been idle, suddenly leap into life, and in an 
instant the giant had left its attackers behind — fleeing, 
wounded from its invisible foe. 

It was agreed that they return to the city and become 
visible. 

Again they turned, and slowly went back, still invis- 
ible, to the approximate spot where they had destroyed 
the invulnerability of the Giant. Then suddenly, out of 
nothing, the Solarite appeared. In an instant a dozen of 
the tiny two-man planes were darting toward it. Just 
that they might recognize it, Arcot shot it up a bit higher 
with the aid of the keel rockets at one-third power. Still, 
the typical reddish flame of atomic hydrogen was 
instantaneously recognizable. 

Eittlp these planes were, but shaped like darts, and 
swifter than any plane earth had — they shot along at 


SOLARITE 


719 


1000 miles an hour readily, as Arcot soon found out. It 
was not a minute before they had formed a long line that 
circled the Solarite at minimum speed, then started off in 
the direction of the city. On impulse Arcot followed after 
them, and instantly the planes shot their velocity up. It 
was quickly indeed that they reached a thousand miles an 
hour, and rocketed smoothly along. 

The city they were approaching was an inspiring sight 
— mighty towers that reached their graceful lines a half 
mile in the air, their sides of brightly colored material 
of some kind gleaming in warm hues seemed to make the 
entire city a gigantic jewel — one lone piece of architec- 
ture, for here no individuals were looming out. There 
was no irregular skyline, but every unit tended toward 
the gigantic edifice that rose, its gleaming tower of black 
and gold a full half mile in the air. 

The outer parts of the city were evidently the residen- 
tial districts, the low buildings and wide streets with the 
little green lawns showing the care of the individual 
owner. Then came the apartment houses and the small 
stores ; then they rose in gentle slopes, higher and higher, 
towering at last to a mighty pinnacle of beauty — a single 
resplendent jewel of flashing color, designed as a whole, 
and not in a multitude of individually beautiful, but 
in harmonious units, like some wild mixture of melodies, 
each in itself beautiful, but mutually discordant. 

N OW the Terrestrians were following their escort 
high above these great buildings, following them 
to the great central tower. In a moment they were above 
it, and in perfect order the ships of the Venerians shot 
down to land smoothly, but at high speed. On the roof 
of the building they slowed with startling rapidity, held 
back by electromagnets under the top dressing of the roof 
landing, as Arcot learned later. 

“We can’t land on that — this thing weighs too much — 
we’d probably sink right through it! I’ll go down into 
the street there and land — it looks wide enough!” Arcot 
maneuvered the Solarite over the edge of the roof, and 
then dropped it swiftly down the half mile to the ground 
below. Just above the street level he held it up, and 
lowered it gently, giving the hurrying crowds plenty of 
time to get from beneath it. 

Then, in anxious curiosity, he landed it, and looked 
quickly at the crowd of Venerians who had gathered in 
the busy street, coming out of the buildings where they 
had, no doubt, sought shelter during the raid. It was a 
rapidly growing crowd as the Terrestrians looked inter- 
estedly at these people of a new world — a people that no 
man had ever seen. 

"Why,” said Fuller in startled surprise, “they look 
almost like us !" 

“Of course,” laughed Arcot — “and what did you ex- 
pect. There are certain prerequisites that any intelligent 
creature must have. He must have a brain, of course, 
but also he must have tools, for that is the only way 
the intelligence of the brain may be expressed. To not 
only give him those necessary tools, but also to permit 
him to hold his brain case more out of harm’s way, and 
get a wider range of vision, he stands on his hind legs, 
thus freeing his forelegs for work. 

"The first requisite of any animal that is to rule the 
planet of his home, is that he have physical strength 
enough to cope with the problems about him. He must 
be strong enough to fight his enemies. But since he also 
has intelligence, he must be strong enough to use the 


tools he makes. It would seem an elephantine beast was 
the obvious candidate for intelligence — but he isn’t. On 
earth, Nature tried out the giant reptile and discarded it. 
He was so big he didn’t have to develop intelligence, 
perhaps. Then the insect — Nature tried that — developed 
intelligence there — but it was so small, that it couldn’t 
do much toward changing the face of the earth to suit 
itself, so it, too, was put aside. Then, in a creature half 
way between the two, Nature found the best possibilities. 
But the greatest asset she gave man was the thumb ; with 
it he is able to hold the tools he makes, among many other 
things, and it is the thing that has done most toward 
developing man’s intelligence. 

“But further on the question of size. If man was 
much bigger, he would be fragile. Can you imagine an 
elephant jumping? No, he couldn’t; he would break his 
legs under his own weight if he did. A thing that size 
can’t be agile as Man had to be. 

“But here, on this planet, we have a lesser gravity, and 
to the degree of that lesser gravity the animals could be 
larger than those of earth, without exceeding the break- 
age limit. I think that explains the size of those 
Venerians." 

Certainly it needed some explanation, for in all that 
crowd, only the obviously young were under six feet. 
The average seemed to be seven feet, with rather large 
chests — well-built men and women, who would have 
seemed very much human indeed, but for a ghastly, 
death-like blue tinge to their skin. Even their lips were 
as bright a blue as man’s lips are red. The teeth seemed 
to be as white as any human’s, but their mouths were 
blue. 

“Why, they look as if they had all been eating blue- 
berries!” laughed Wade. “I wonder what makes their 
blood blue? I have heard of blue-blooded families, but 
these are the first I have ever seen 1” 

“I think I can answer that, also — I have been reading 
about various forms of life recently,” said Morey slowly. 
“It seems odd to us — but those people have their blood 
based on hemocyanine. In us, the oxygen is carried to 
the tissues, and the carbon dioxide carried away by an 
iron compound, hemo-globin, but in many animals of 
earth, the same function is performed by a copper com- 
pound, hemo-cyanin, which is an intense blue. I am sure 
that that is the explanation for these strange people. By 
the way, did you notice their hands?” 

“Yes, I had. I know they are different from ours, but 
I haven't had a good look at them and can’t say in what 
way they are different. They strike me as having one 
too many fingers — look — there — that fellow is pointing 
— why — his hand has not too many fingers, but too many 
thumbs! He has one on each side of his palm! What 
good does that do him — let’s see, if I put one hand on 
top of the other, palm to back, I get the same effect — say 
it would be handy in placing nuts and bolts, and such fine 
work, would it not?” 

Suddenly a lane opened in the crowd, and from the 
great black and gold building there came a file of men 
in tight-fitting green uniforms, a file of seven- foot giants. 
Obviously they were soldiers of some particular branch, 
for in the Crowd there were a number of men dressed in 
similar uniforms of deep blue. 

“I think they want one or more of us to accompany 
them. Let's flip a coin to decide who goes — two better 
stay here, and two go. If we don’t come back inside of 
a reasonable period of time, one of you might start mak- 


720 


AMAZING STORIES 


ing inquiries ; the other can send a message to earth, and 
get out of harm's way till help can come. I imagine these 
people are friendly now, however — else I wouldn’t go.” 

As Arcot finished, the leader of the troop stepped up 
to the door of the Solaritc, and coming to what was obvi- 
ously a position of attention, put his left hand over his 
right breast in an equally obvious salute, and waited. 

The coin was flipped with due ceremony — it was to 
decide which of them were to have the distinction of 
being the first Terrestrians to set foot on Venus. Arcot 
and Morey got the luck, and they quickly put on the 
loose-fitting ventilated cooling suits that they might live 
comfortably in the hot air outside — for the thermometer 
registered 150! 

The two men quickly walked over to the entrance 
door of the air lock, entered, closed it behind them, and 
opened the other door. There was a slight rush of air as 
the pressure outside was a bit lower than that inside. At 
once there was a singing in their ears, and they had to 
swallow several times to equalize the pressure. The 
guards at once fell into a double row on either side of 
them, and the young officer strode ahead. He himself 
had curbed his curiosity after the single startled glance 
he had given these strange men. Only their hands were 
visible, for the cooling suits covered them almost "com- 
pletely, but the strange pink color must indeed have been 
startling to his eyes; also their dwarf stature, and the 
strange suits they wore. The men of his little troop, 
however, as well as the people in the crowd about them, 
were not so disinterested. They were looking in eager 
amazement at these men who had but just saved their 
city, these strange small men, with their queer pink skin. 
And most surprising of all, perhaps, the inner thumb was 
missing from each hand! 

But soon they had passed beyond the sight of the 
crowd, which was held in check by a handful of the deep 
blue uniformed men. 

“Those fellows would never hold such a Terrestrial 
crowd back if visitors from another planet landed!” re- 
marked Morey wonderingly. 

“How do they know we are visitors from another 
planet? We suddenly appeared out of nowhere — they 
don’t even know our direction of approach. We might 
be some strange race of Venerians as far as they know, 
though their swift planes must have carried them over all 
’ Venus long before now !” Arcot replied. 

They had walked quickly up to the great gold and 
black entrance, and passed through the great doors that 
seemed made of great masses of solid copper, painted 
with some clear lacquer that kept the metal lustrous, the 
rich color shining magnificently. They stood open wide 
nqw, as indeed they were always. To these men of a 
copper starved world, where copper was practically as 
dear as silver, this seemed a tremendous investment. 
Even the giant Venerians were dwarfed by these mighty 
doors as they passed through into an equally vast hall, a 
mighty room that must have filled all the front half of 
the ground floor of the gigantic building, a hall of grace- 
ful columns that hid the great supporting members. The 
stone, they knew, must serve the Venerians as marble 
serves us, but it was a far more handsome stone. It was 
a rich green, like the green of thick, heavy grass in sum- 
mer when the rain is plentiful, rich and thick, a soft 
wavy green. The color was very pleasing to the eye, 
and restful too. There was a checker-board floor of this 
green stone, alternated with another, a stone of intense 


blue. They were hard, and the colors made a very strik- 
ing pattern, pleasingly different from what they had been 
accustomed to, but common to Venus, as they soon 
learned. 

Arcot dropped quickly to one knee, and started to 
examine the green stone closely, felt of it an instant, then 
jumped up in surprise, shaking his hand ; a moment he 
looked surprised — puzzled. Then he laughed. The 
guards who had been accompanying them had halted, and 
were watching them with interest and amusement — exam- 
ining the material of a common floor ! 

“Why — I forgot — I won’t again, though — look out 
that you don't touch anything unnecessarily, Morey — 
everything here is at a temperature of 150 remember, and 
is most unpleasantly hot. I almost burned my hand ! It 
was more surprise than anything else that made me 
jump, but I think I know what that green stone is — it’s 
chromic carbonate in some natural form that we don’t 
have on earth. These fellows might just as well say 
that a stone, sudi as marble, couldn't exist, because they 
had never seen it — and man has never yet duplicated the 
work of nature in making Iceland spar— crystallized 
calcium carbonate, yet it is chemically the same as lime- 
stone! But let’s move on — they are obviously waiting 
for us.” 

T HERE were many soldiers in the great hall that 
they were crossing, and as the little party walked on, 
they stopped and looked in surprise at the strangely 
hooded figures. 

At last the party had crossed the great hall, and stopped 
beside a large doorway. The officer stopped for a mo- 
ment, pointed out two of his men, who remained, while 
the others walked quickly away. The diminished party 
stepped through the doorway into a small room whose 
walls were lined with copper apparently, and an instant 
later, as the officer pushed a small button, there was a 
low hiss of escaping air, and a copper grating sprung 
quickly up across the opening of the elevator. Then 
another button, and there was the familiar sinking feeling 
as the car rose, a low hum seeming to come from the 
lower part of the car. 

The car rose swiftly through a very considerable dis- 
tance — up — up. It seemed that no car could work over 
that great climb. 

“They must have some wonderfully strong cables here 
on Venus!” Morey exclaimed. “The engineers of the 
Terrestrial buildings have been wondering for some time 
how to get around the difficulty of shifting elevators. 
The idea of changing cars doesn’t appeal to me, either— 
but we must have risen a long way !” 

“I should say so — I wonder how they do it. We have 
been rising for a minute and a half at a very fair clip — 
there we are — I want to look at this car I” Arcot at once 
stepped over to- the little row of buttons on the control 
board, looked at it closely, then stepped out quickly and 
peered down between the car and the shaft as the copper 
grating fell, simultaneously pulling down with it the door 
that had blocked off the hall-way. 

“Come here, Morey — simple system at that ! It would 
be so, of course — look — they have tracks, and a regular 
trolley system, with cog rails alongside and the car just 
winds itself up! They have an electric motor under- 
neath, I’ll bet, and just run it up in that way. They 
have never done that on earth because of the terrible 
cost of running the car up without any counterbalance — 


SOLARITE 


721 


it would be too expensive — require too much power. I 
think I see the solution — the car has electro-dynamical 
brakes, and going down, just slows itself down by pump- 
ing power into the line to haul some other car up. This 
eliminates the difficulty of cables that can’t carry their 
own weight very nicely. The counterbalance means that 
at least a mile of cable must be used in raising the car 
one-half mile, actually some six miles of wire cable — 
this is a mighty clever scheme !” 

As Arcot straightened, the officer beckoned to him to 
follow, and started down the long corridor which was 
lined on either side with large doorways, on which there 
was painted in black characters some inscription, evi- 
dently the directory of the floor. 

Through a long series of the branching corridors they 
at last reached one that had but one exit, into a large 
office, into which the young officer led them. Immedi- 
ately he snapped to attention, spoke briefly and rapidly, 
saluted and retired with his two men. 

The man before the Terrestrians now was a tall, kindly 
faced old gentleman, his straight black hair was turning 
slightly to a very light blueish, almost a grey, in spots, 
but the kindly face, the smiling eyes, and an air of sincere 
interest seemed to illumine the entire countenance. He 
looked curiously, questioningly at the two men before 
him, looked at their hands, his eyes widening in surprise ; 
then he stepped quickly forward, and extended his hand, 
at the same time looking toward Arcot. 

At once Arcot understood him and extended his 
hand. The Venerian took it in his hand — then with an 
exclamation on the part of each, they mutually released 
each other, for Arcot felt a decidedly uncomfortable 
degree of heat, almost scaldingly hot, just as the Venerian 
felt a degree of intense cold ! Each seemed staring from 
his hand to the hand of the other in surprise, then a smile 
lighted the face of the Venerian as he very emphatically 
put his hand at his side. Arcot smiled at him, and said 
to Morey in an animated tone : 

“They have a body temperature of at least 170 Fahren- 
heit. It would naturally be above room temperature, 
which is 150 here, so that they are most unpleasantly hot 
to us. Many forms of earth-life would be killed by that 
temperature, but there are, of course, different forms of 
life here on Venus, modified to stand that temperature as 
natural. I hope these fellows don’t have fevers! They 
would be apt to boil over ! 

"But really they have some 40 degrees leeway, and as 
the temperature of the human l>ody varies never more 
than eight degrees, they are safe enough, I guess.’’ 

"But they must have to boil all their food under 
increased pressure here ; a difference of 40 degrees would 
probably be insufficient !” 

The Venerian had picked up a small rectangle of black 
material, smooth and solid. With it as a tablet he drew 
quickly on it with a pencil of copper, apparently. In a 
moment he handed the tablet to Arcot, who reached out 
for it, then thought better of it, and motioned that he 
didn’t want to burn his fingers. The old Venerian held 
it where Arcot could see it. 

“Why, Morey, look here— I didn’t think they had 
developed astronomy to any degree, because of the con- 
stant clouds, but just look here. He has a nice little map 
of the solar system, with Mercury, Venus, Earth, the 
Moon, Mars, and all the rest on it. He has drawn in 
several of the satellites of Jupiter and of Saturn too.” 

The Venerian pointed to Mars and looked inquisitively 


at them. Arcot shook his head and pointed quickly to 
earth. The Venerian seemed a bit surprised at this, 
then thought a moment and nodded his head in satisfac- 
tion. He looked at Arcot intently a moment. Then to 
Arcot’s amazement, there seemed to form in his head a 
thought — at first vague; then quickly it took on definite 
form. 

“Man of Earth,” it seemed to say, "we thank you — you 
have saved our nation” — (there seemed to be a name 
idea here, but a name is merely a phonetic symbol for a 
country, just as a flag is its material symbol. It can not 
be impressed on the brain of one who has different 
physical arrangements, as can an idea, for ideas are 
everywhere the same.) 

“We want to thank you for your quick response to our 
signals. We had not thought that you could answer us 
so soon.” The Venerian seemed to relax as the message 
was finished. It was obviously a great effort. 

Arcot looked steadily into his eyes now, and tried to 
concentrate on a message — on a series of ideas. To him, 
trained though he was in deep concentration on one idea, 
the process of visualizing a series of ideas was new, and 
very difficult. But he soon saw that he was making 
some progress. 

“We came in response to no signals — exploration only 
— we saw the battle — and aided because your city seemed 
doomed, and because it seemed too beautiful to be 
destroyed.” 

“What’s it all about, Arcot?” asked Morey in surprise, 
as he watched them staring at each other. 

“These Venerians have developed telepathy to a prac- 
tical point — it seems I am terribly thick from his point of 
view, but I just learned that they sent signals to earth — 
why, I haven't learned — but I am making progress. If I 
don't get a headache or go insane from the overwork, I 
will find out sooner or later — so wait and see.” He 
turned again to the Venerian who was now looking at 
him rather dubiously. Then quickly he turned to his 
desk, and pulled a small lever down. Then again he 
looked intently at Arcot. 

“Come with me — the strain of this conversation is too 
great — I see you do not have thought transference on 
your world.” 

“Come along, Morey — we are going somewhere. He 
says this thought transference is too much for us. I 
wonder what he is going to do?” 

O UT into the maze of halls they went again, now led 
by the kindly, seven-foot Venerian scientist. Down 
through a long series of halls they went, till at last they 
reached a large room, where already there had gathered 
in the semicircle of seats a hundred or so seven-foot 
Venerians. Before them, on a low platform, there were 
two large chairs with deep cushions. To these chairs the 
two Terrestrians were led. 

“We will try to teach you our language telepathically. 
We can teach you the ideas — you must learn the pro- 
nunciation, but this will be very much quicker. Seat 
yourselves in these chairs and relax.” 

The chairs had been designed for seven- footers. These 
men were six feet and six feet six, yet it seemed to them, 
as they sank into them, that never had they felt such com- 
fortable chairs. They were designed so that every mus- 
cle and every nerve should be at rest. Now they seemed 
floating in space once more, without weight. Suddenly 
Arcot felt a wave of sleepiness oppress him; then slowly 


722 


AMAZING STORIES 


lie grew more and more sleepy — he was tired — tired. 
It seemed that suddenly visions began to fill his mind — 
visions as he regained consciousness slowly — up from the 
dark, and into a dream world. It seemed he saw a 
mighty fleet of gargantuan planes flying above the city 
where he was — a fleet whose individual planes were a 
mile long, three-quarters of a mile wingspread — titanic 
monoplanes, whose droning roar as the hundreds of 
whirling props stirred the air seemed to roar through all 
space. Then suddenly they were above him, and from 
each there spurted out a great stream of dazzling bril- 
liance, an intense glow that reached down, and touched 
the city — There was an awful concussion in his ears. All 
the world about him was gone in a flash of awful bril- 
liance; then all was dark. 

Another vision it seemed now — a vision of the same 
fleet hanging over a giant crater of molten rock, a crater 
that nestled on a plain beside low green hills — a crater 
that he knew had been a city. The giants of the air cir- 
cled, turned, and sped far off over the horizon — Again 
he was with them — and again he saw a great city fuse in 
a blazing flash of blinding light — then again and again — 
around all that world he seemed to see smoking ruins of 
great cities, blasted red hot rock that had been cities, a 
world of awful desolation. Then he was with the De- 
stroyers, riding up, up, up — out of the clouds they were, 
out beyond the swirling mists, where the cold of space 
seemed to reach in at them, and the roaring of the mighty 
propellers was a thin whine — then suddenly that was 
gone, and out of the rear of each of the titanic machines 
there burst a great stream of light, a blazing column of 
light that roared back, and lit all space for miles around 
— then the machines were shooting up, and away — out 
across space — away from the planet — on — on. Then he 
seemed to see them nearing another world, a world that 
shone a dull red, but he saw the markings and knew that 
it was earth, not Mars. The great planes were falling 
now — falling at an awful speed into the upper air of the 
planet, and in an instant the great light flares were gone, 
fading and becoming weaker as the dense air oppressed 
them. Now again there came the roar of the mighty 
propellers. Then swiftly the Fleet of Giants was drop- 
ping, and Arcot saw it sink lower and lower; his vision 
saw it coming above a spot he knew must be New York — 
but it was a strangely distorted New York; it was a 
Venerian city, where New York should have been— and 
again he saw great bombs falling. In an instant the 
gigantic city was a smoking ruin — then the visions faded, 
and slowly he opened his eyes, looked about him. He 
was still in the room of the circle of chairs — he was still 
on Venus — then suddenly to him came the meaning of 
these visions — the meaning of that strangely distorted 
New York, of that red earth. It meant that this was 
what the Venerians believed was to happen! Theywere 
trying to show him the plans of the owners and builders 
of those gigantic ships! The New York he had seen 
was the New York as these men imagined it. 

Startled, confused, he rose unsteadily to his feet. His 
head seemed whirling in the throes of a terrific headache. 
The men about him were looking anxiously at him — he 
glanced toward Morey. He was sleeping deeply in the 
seat — now and then his face moved in some strange 
expression. It was his turn now to learn this new lan- 
guage and see the visions. 

The old Venerian. who had brought them here, walked 
up to Arcot and spoke to him in a softly musical lan- 


guage, a language that was sibilant and predominated in 
liquid sounds ; there were no gutturals, no nasals ; it was 
a more musical language than earth men had ever before 
heard, and now Arcot started in surprise, for he under- 
stood it perfectly; the language was as familiar as 
English. 

“We have taught you our language as quickly as pos- 
sible — you may have a headache, but you must know 
what we know as soon as possible. It may well be that 
the fate of two worlds hangs on your actions. 

“These men have concentrated on you and taught you 
very rapidly, given you those visions of what we know 
to be in preparation. You must get back to your won- 
derful ship as quickly as possible; no time can be lost, 
and you must know what has happened here on our 
world in the last few years, and what happened twenty 
centuries ago. 

“Come with me to my office, and we will talk. When 
your friend has also learned, you may tell him." 

O UICKLY Arcot followed the Venerian down the 
long corridors of the building. Few people they 
met, and these seemed intent on their own business, pay- 
ing little attention to the strange man that walked through 
the halls with the tall old gentleman. 

At last they were again in the office where Arcot had 
first seen the Venerian. They sat down, and Arcot lis- 
tened to a new history — the history of another planet. 

“Twenty centuries ago," the old man began /‘there 
were two great rival nations on this planet. The planet 
Turo is naturally divided so that there would be a tend- 
ency thus to form two great nations. There are two 
enormous belts of land around the globe, one running 
from about twenty degrees north of the equator to about 
eighty degrees north. This is my country, Lanor. To 
the south there is a similar great belt of land, of almost 
identical size, Kaxor. These two nations have existed 
for many thousands of our years — slightly over two- 
thirds of the time in your years — and two thousand years 
ago there was a great crisis in the affairs of the world— 
a great war was in process of starting — but a Lanorian 
developed a weapon that made it impossible for the 
Kaxorians to win — and war was averted. The feeling 
was so strong, however, that laws were made that have 
been able to stop all intercourse between the two nations 
for these thousands of years. Only we know that Kaxor 
has studied the principles of physics, perhaps in hopes of 
finding a weapon with which they could threaten us once 
more. Lanor has studied the secrets of the human mind, 
and of the body. We have no disease here any longer ; 
we have no insanity. We have studied cherfiistry greatly, 
but physics only in connection with our other studies. 
Recently, however, we have again taken up the study of 
this science, since it alone of the main sciences had gone 
neglected. But twenty-five years have been spent on 
these researches, and in that short time we cannot hope 
to do what the Kaxorians have done in two thousand. 
The secret of the heat ray, the weapon that prevented 
the last war, had been nearly forgotten. It required 
diligent research to bring it to life again, for it is a very 
inefficient machine — or was. Of late, however, we have 
been able to improve it, and now it is used in commerce 
to smelt our ores. It was this alone that allowed this 
city to put up the slight resistance that we did. We 
were surely doomed. This is the capital of Lanor, Sonor. 
The nation would have fallen but for you. 


SOLARITE 


723 


“We have had some warning that this was coming. 
We have spies in Kaxor now, for we learned of their 
intentions when they flew one of the giant planes over 
one of our cities and dropped a bomb! We have been 
trying, since we discovered the awful scope of their plans, 
to send you a warning if you could not help us. That 
you should come here just now is one of the greatest 
things of the universe — a chance in a billion billion bil- 
lion, I suppose — but perhaps there is more than chance 
behind it ? Who knows ? 

“But since that plane has been driven away, we can 
expect at any moment a new raid, and we must be pre- 
pared. Is there any way you can signal your planet?” 

“Yes — we can signal easily by — I do not know the 
word in your language — it may be that you do not have 
it — radio we call it — it is akin to light, but of vastly 
longer wavelength. Produced by electrical means, it can 
be directed like light by means of a reflector and sent in 
a beam. It can penetrate all substances except metals, 
and can leak around them, if it be not directional. With 
it I can talk readily with the men of earth, and this very 
night I will. But I want to learn of your planet. I will 
be able to warn our planet, but I will also want to tell 
them of yours. There is much to be gained by a knowl- 
edge of your planet and its resources ! 

"You say your people have studied chemistry. We 
have, too. And we have studied physics much, but we 
have studied the mind very little. The body we have 
studied, and we know enough to care for it. We, too, 
have well nigh eradicated diseases. But we have had a 
civilization of metals for many years now, and there 
are many metals we lack. This trip to your planet was 
partly in interest of finding more supplies. 

"Here you use copper very lavishly. Is it plentiful?” 

“On Turo,” said Tonlos, “we have two elements which 
constitute a very large percentage of the available re- 
sources. Oxygen constitutes forty-two percent, and sili- 
con about ten percent. 

“Next in abundance is 'modus/ which constitutes 
about 7 percent.” 

"Morlus — I have the word in your language — but I do 
not know the element. What is it ?” asked Arcot. 

"Why — here is some !” 

Tonlos handed Arcot a small block of metal that had 
been used to hold a thin sheet of metal flat on a table in 
one corner of the room. It seemed a fairly dense metal, 
about as heavy as iron, but it had a remarkable blueish 
tint. Obviously, it was the element that composed the 
wings of the airplane they had seen that afternoon. 
Arcot examined it carefully, handicapped somewhat by 
the fact that he could not hold it directly, but only on a 
piece of cloth, since the metal was too hot. He picked 
up a small copper rod and tried to scratch it, but there 
was no noticeable effect. 

"You cannot scratch it with copper/' said Tonlos, “it 
is the second hardest metal we know — it is less hard than 
chromium, but far less brittle. It is malleable, ductile, 
very strong, very tough, especially when alloyed with 
iron, but those alloys are used only in very particular 
work, for iron is very rare. We have ” 

“Iron is rare !” exclaimed Arcot in surprise. “Why, 
on earth it is exceedingly plentiful. I cannot understand 
how it can be so rare here on Venus. And I cannot 
identify this element. May I take it to the ship to 
test it ?” 

“You may, by all means. I thought from the appear- 


ance of some of your mechanisms that iron was very 
plentiful on your planet. But, from the fact that you do 
not recognize this metal of ours, I see that to you it is 
rare. You will have considerable difficulty getting it into 
solution. It is attacked only by boiling selenic acid, and 
that dissolves platinum readily. However, it is related 
to manganese. The usual test for the element is to so 
dissolve it, oxidize it to an acid, then test with radium 
selenate, when a brilliant greenish blue salt is ” 

“Test with radium selenate ! Why we have no radium 
salts whatever on earth that we could use for that pur- 
pose. Radium is exceedingly rare !” said Arcot. 

“I think I had best go on with my list,” Tonlos continued. 
"Radium is by no means plentiful here, but we seldom 
have to test for morlus, and we have plenty of radium 
salts for that purpose. We have never found any use 
for radium — it is so active that it combines with water 
just as sodium does, it is very soft — a useless metal, 
and dangerous to handle. Our chemists have never been 
able to understand it — it is always in some kind of a 
reaction no matter what they do, and still it gives off that 
very light gas, helium, and a heavy gas niton, and an 
unaccountable amount of heat. 

"Next after morlus in quantity comes copper, then 
chromium, then calcium, beryllium, sodium and potas- 
sium, and lead, zinc and tin, all occuring over one per- 
cent. Then the the non-metals break in again — the most 
plentiful is carbon — then comes another metal, tungsten, 
.9 percent ; then there is a long string of metals and non- 
metals that occur in very small quantities except for sul- 
phur, selenium and platinum. 

“We have large supplies of platinum really — they all 
seem to come in lumps, not like some of them, that are 
spread out all over. 

“But how about aluminum? and gold? and the halo- 
gens ?” asked Arcot. 

“Oh, aluminum is rather rare — we use it as a monetary 
standard — it is hard enough to make good coins. It 
seems a pity it is so rare ; it is a very useful metal. And 
what surplus there is is used as ornaments by women 
and in very expensive things. It is a luxury which 
would make a very useful necessity if it were more 
plentiful. Gold— oh, yes — I had forgotten it. It is al- 
ways bothering the platinum workers — and it occurs all 
over, it seems. It is a terrific nuisance. It is not exceed- 
ingly plentiful — less than half of one percent — but widely 
distributed. It is soft and sticky, so to speak. It clogs 
up things, and is no use whatever. It is too soft to hold 
together. We have tried to use it for plating since it is 
non-corrosive, but it wears off right away. It won’t 
stand heat, so we can’t use it in the laboratories. We 
have tried using it in acid chambers, but it 'poisons’ 
many catalysts and keeps them from working properly. 
We cannot use it near the platinum catalysts in the sul- 
phuric acid plants — so we use lead all over. We do use 
it in the concentrating pans sometimes — but it isn’t worth 
the trouble of digging it out of the ground and hauling 
it here. I don’t believe anyone has ever tried to develop 
a use for it, though it is plentiful enough I suppose. It 
is naturally very cheap, and unscrupulous people use it 
in copper to make it weigh heavier. It can be had from 
platinum works for the trouble of hauling it away. The 
halogens are very rare. We use them only as very 
unusual reagents. A very small percentage of them is a 
requisite to life processes, but very, very little. They 
occur to a small extent in sea water. 


724 


AMAZING STORIES 


“Your world is vastly different from ours,” said Arcot. 
He related to Tonlos the different metals of the earth, 
the non-metals, and their occurrence. But try as he 
would, he could not place the metal Tonlos had given 
him. 

A T last Morey was brought in. He was looking very 
- tired, and very, serious. He, also, was suffering 
from a headache, just as Arcot had. Arcot told him of 
his discoveries and of the metals of Turo, wondering 
why it was that the two planets, both members of the 
same sun, should be so different. 

“I think I know,” said Morey slowly, “and the more 
I think it over, the more firmly convinced I am that I 
know the metal you can’t place. 

“We have all seen pictures of the sun taken by dif- 
ferent colored lights. If hydrogen light is used and all 
others are shut out, we see a picture of the hydrogen - oil 
the sun. If calcium light is used, a corresponding result 
is obtained. 

“This work was started back as far as 1900 or so, 
and in that time lots of elements have been mapped, and 
we have watched the elements change their locations. In 
this way we are getting a map of the sun showing the 
deposits of the different elements. We have seen hydro- 
gen, oxygen, silicon and others, and as the sun aged, the 
elements must have been mixed up more and more 
thoroughly. Yet we have seen the vast deposits. Some 
of those deposits are so vast that they could easily be the 
source of an entire world ! I wonder if it is not possible 
that earth was thrown off from some deposit rich in iron, 
aluminum and calcium, and poor in gold, radium and 
those other metals — and particularly poor in one element. 
There are some gaps in the periodic table — you know 
them — there is a counterpart to manganese, a heavier 
metal still to be found. We have located in the sun the 
spectrum of an element we have named coronium — and 
I think that you have a specimen of coronium in your 
hand there! Venus came from a coronium impregnated 
region ! 

“Most of the meteorites that fall to earth have a large 
iron content — but remember that earth was thrown out 
of the sun violently, whenever it was thrown out, and with 
it must have come a lot of loose material that may have 
been thrown out and shot out into space to form long 
elliptic orbits that bring them near the sun once in a bil- 
lion years. These pieces are really part of the earth that 
fall back to it as it advances in its orbit — naturally they 
will be high in iron — like the earth — and scientists ob- 
serving them say, ‘Ha — meteorites are full of iron— all 
planets must be full of iron !’ But their logic is being 
unbalanced by errors, hidden by Nature. My idea sounds 
possible — and it does explain the facts of Venus.” 

“Most of the meteorites that strike this planet are 
high in iron, too — but, the sun is in general, too. How- 
ever. we get many meteorites high in coronium, as you 
call it,” said Tonlos. 

The discussion was soon ended, for already the air out- 
side had passed to a murky twilight. It was nearing 
night now, and the Terrestrians were led quickly down 
to the elevator, which dropped them rapidly to the 
ground. There was still a large crowd about the Solarite, 
but the way was at once cleared for them, and a peculiar 
sensation struck both the Terrestrians very forcibly. It 
seemed that everyone in the crowd was wishing them 
the greatest success — the best of things in every wish. 


“The ultimate in applause! Morey, I’ll swear we just 
received a silent cheer!” laughed Arcot, as they stood 
inside the airlock of the ship once more. It seemed home 
to them now! In a moment they had taken off the 
annoying ventilating suits and stepped once more into the 
room where Wade and Fuller awaited them. 

“Say — what were you fellows doing. We were actually 
getting ready to do some inquiring about your health 1” 
said Wade, still a bit worried. 

“I know we were gone a long time — but when you 
hear the reason, you won>’t wonder so much ! See if you 
can raise earth on the radio yet. Morey, will you, while 
I tell these fellows what happened? If you succeed, tell 
thenf to call in Dad and your father, and to have a couple 
of phono-type machines on the job. We will want a 
record of what I have to send. Say that we will call back 
in an hour.” Then, while Morey was busy down in the 
power room sending the signals out across the forty mil- 
lion miles of space that separated them, Arcot told Wade 
and Fuller the news that he had learned. Not only was 
half of Venus in danger — but earth itself was for the 
first time in millions of centuries in danger of attack! 

Morey finally succeeded in getting his message 
through, and returned to say that they would be waiting 
in one hour. Fie had had to wait eight minutes after 
sending his message to get any answer, however, due to 
the slowness of radio waves. 

“Fuller— you’re the chef — if you do your job, Wade 
and I will start on this piece of coronium here and see 
what there is to learn,” said Arcot. “We can be ready 
by the end of the hour.” 

At supper table Wade and Arcot were exclaiming over 
the curious constants they had discovered for coronium. 
It was not attacked by any acid except boiling selenic 
acid, since it formed a tremendous number of insoluble 
salts. Even the nitrate violated the long-held rule that 
“all nitrates are soluble” — it wouldn’t dissolve. Yet it 
was chemically more active than gold. 

But its physical constants were the most surprising. 
It melted at 2800 centigrade, a very high melting point 
indeed. Very few metals are solid at that temperature. 
But the tensile strength test made with a standard bar 
they had finally turned out by means of a carbaloy tool, 
the second hardest thing known, tungsten carbide and 
cobalt, gave a reading of over a million, three hundred 
thousand pounds per square inch! It was far stronger 
than iron— stronger than tungsten, the strongest metal 
heretofore known. It was twice as strong as the earth’s 
strongest metal! 

“No wonder they can make a plane like that when they 
Have such a metal to work with,” said Fuller. The design- 
ing engineer had visions of a machine after his own 
heart — a machine where half the weight wasn’t employed 
in holding it together. 

It was a little later that they got communication 
through to earth, and the men went to the power room. 
The televisor was blinking, struggling to form a clear 
image despite the handicap of forty million miles of 
space. In a moment it had cleared, though, and they 
saw the face of Dr. Arcot. He showed plainly that he 
was worried about the startling news that had reached 
him already, sketchy though it was. Rapidly his son out- 
lined to him the full extent of their discoveries, and 
the things that earth would have to meet with. 

"Dad. these Kaxorians have planes capable of far 
more than a thousand miles an hour in the air. For some 


SOLARITE 


725 


reason the apparatus they use to propel them in space is 
inoperative in air, but their giant propellers will drive 
them forward faster than any plane earth ever saw. 
You must start at once on a fleet of these molecular mo- 
tion planes — and a lot of the gas Wade developed — you 
know how to make it — the animation suspending gas. It 
will be useful — and I will try to develop some new 
weapon here. If either of us makes any progress along 
new lines — we will talk each night — I must stop now — 
some Lanorian scientists are coming.” 

W HILE the Solarite rested, there had been a large 
crowd of people gathered around it, waiting a 
glimpse of the Terrestrians — for now the news had 
spread that this car had come from earth. Now, how- 
ever, a group of men was advancing toward the car, they 
were clothed in great furs, heavy coats that seemed warm 
enough to wear in the arctic regions ! 

“Why — Arcot — what’s the idea of the arctic regalia?” 
asked Fuller in surprise. 

“Think a moment — they are going to visit a place 
whose temperature is seventy degrees colder than their 
room temperature. Into the bargain, Venus never has 
any seasonal change of temperature, and the heavy bank 
of clouds that eternally cover the planet keep the tem- 
perature as constant as a thermocouple arrangement could. 
The slight change there is from day to night is only ap- 
preciable by the nightly rains — see — the crowd is begin- 
ning to break up now — it is night already, and there 
is a heavy dew settling now, soon it will be rain, and the 
great amount of moisture in the air will supply enough 
heat, in condensing, to prevent a temperature drop of 
more than two or three degrees. 

"These men are not used to changes in temperature as 
we are and hence they must protect themselves far more 
fully. Even in exploring their arctic, I imagine they 
never find frozen water — the heat held in by the clouds 
prevents that.” 

Three figures now entered the air-lock of the Solarite, 
and muffled in their furs as they were, large under any 
conditions, they had to come through one at a time. 

Much that Arcot showed them was totally new to 
them. Much he could not explain to them at all, for 
their physics had not yet reached that stage. 

But there was one thing he could show them, and he 
did. There were no samples of the liquids he wanted, 
but their chemistry was developed to a point that per- 
mitted the communication of the necessary data and 
Arcot told them the formula of Wade’s gas. 

This gas was somewhat radioactive in character due to 
the incorporation in the molecule of an atom of the 
radioactive thorium, but partly due to this, it had the 
wonderful property of suspending animation for several 
months, and of permitting full recovery on the adminis- 
tration of a dose of potassium iodide. There was a 
second equally striking peculiarity — it could penetrate 
any material. It had been known for many centuries 
that carbon monoxide was able to penetrate a sheet of 
steel when the steel was at a dull red heat, but Wade had 
found the reason for this property, and developed it to 
a far greater degree, till the gas he made was able to 
penetrate any material at ordinary temperatures. Com- 
bined with its anesthetic properties, it had obvious ad- 
vantages as a gas for rendering the opposing forces de- 
fenseless. 

Since it was able to penetrate all substances, there were 


no means of storing it — like the famous universal sol- 
vent — "what’cha gonna keep it in?” The answer was 
that two liquids were made to react spontaneously and 
produce the gas, which was then projected as any other 
to the spot where needed. 

Arcot asked now that the Venerian chemists make him 
a supply of these two liquids. He felt he would be much 
better equipped to attack the enemy if he could but cap- 
ture one of their flying forts. It seemed a strange task ! 
Capturing so huge a* machine with only the tiny Solarite 
— but Arcot felt sure he would be able to do it, if he but 
had a supply of that gas. 

There was one difficulty — it required a considerable 
portion of chlorine gas to make it — though the chlorine 
itself was not part of the product; one step in the syn- 
thesis required it. Since chlorine was rare on Venus, 
the men were forced to sacrifice most of their salt 
supply, but this chlorine so generated could be used over 
and over again. Realizing the importance of the gas, 
the Lanorians agreed to synthesize it. 

It was quite late when the Venerians had left, to go 
again into the hot drizzle of the rain. The rain was, as 
Arcot found, really scaldingly hot, but to these Ven- 
erians it appeared as a cold drizzle. But it was as 
natural to them as was the air, the ocean or the sunshine. 
They merely accepted it as one of the things that were. 

The building before which the Solarite now rested 
was the capital building of Lanor. There were here 
the government laboratories and the National College. 
With the help of these two institutions, it was hoped 
that the work of making the necessary materials would 
progress rapidly. 

Shortly after the Venerians left, the Terrestrians 
turned in for the night, leaving a telephone connection 
with the guard outside. In view of the tremendous re- 
sults the Solarite would bring into the balance of this 
war, Lanor had had a special guard established about 
it. 

The dull light of the Venerian day was filtering in 
through the windows the next morning when the Terres- 
trians awoke. It was eight o’clock, New York time, but 
Sonor was working on a twenty-three hour day. It hap- 
pened that Sonor and New York had been in opposition 
at midnight two nights ago, which meant that it was now 
ten o’clock Sonorian time. The result was that Arcot 
and Morey, the first up, found the Venerian world in full 
swing of its morning business. Quickly they called the 
others, and while Fuller was preparing the morning 
meal, Arcot left the car to speak to the officer in charge 
of the guard about the ship. 

"We need some pure water — water free of copper 
salts. I think it would be best if you can get me some 
water that has been distilled. That is, for drinking. 
Also we need about two tons of water of any kind — the 
ship’s tanks need recharging. I would like about a ton 
of the drinking water.” Arcot had to translate the Ter- 
restrian measures into the corresponding Venerian 
terms, of course, but still the officer seemed puzzled. 
Such a large amount of water would mean a real problem 
in getting it here. Could the Solarite be moved to some 
mere accessible place? 

Arcot agreed to have it moved to a spot just outside 
the city, where the water could be procured directly from 
a small stream. The drinking water would be ready 
when he returned to the city. 

The Solarite was moved to the shore of the little river 


726 


AMAZING STORIES 


and the electrolysis apparatus was set up beside it. Dur- 
ing the previous day, and ever since they had landed on 
Venus, all their power had been coming from the storage 
cells, but now that the electrolysis apparatus was to es- 
tablish such a heavy and constant drain, Arcot started 
the generator, to both charge the cells, and to do the 
work needed. 

T HROUGHOUT the day there was the steady hum 
of the generator in its room, and the throb-throb- 
throb of the oxygen pump, as the gas was pumped into 
the huge tanks. The apparatus they were using produced 
the gas very rapidly, but it was near nightfall before the 
huge tanks had again been filled. Even then there was 
a bit more room for the atomic hydrogen that was simul- 
taneously formed, although twice as much hydrogen as 
oxygen was produced. Then the Solarite rose again and 
shot swiftly toward the distant city. 

There was a soft red glow now, for even through the 
miles of clouds the intense sun was able to give some 
direct rays, and all the city was lighted with that warm 
glow. The floodlights had not yet been turned on, but 
the great buildings looming high in the ruddy light were 
wonderfully impressive, the effect being heightened by 
the cooperation shown, for there were no single spires, 
only a single mass that grew from the ground to tower 
high in the air, like some man-made mountain. 

The Venerian buildings had a slightly different type of 
architecture, in that, though the vertical lines were al- 
ways accentuated to lead the eye upward, to increase the 
effect of height, the horizontal lines were even further 
reduced by making them all curves. There were no angles, 
the entire outside was curving. The effect was much more 
pleasing than the sharp angles of Terrestrial buildings. 

Back at the Capital the Solarite again settled into the 
broad avenue that had been cut off now, and allotted to 
it as its resting place. Tonlos mef them shortly after they 
had settled into place, and with him were five men, each 
carrying two large bottles. 

“Ah-co,” as Tonlos pronounced the Terrestrian name, 
"we have not been able to make very much of the ma- 
terials needed for your gas, but before we made any 
very great amount, we tried it out on a Venerian animal, 
whose blood structure is the same as ours, and found 
it had the same effect, but that in our case the iodide of 
potassium is not as effective in awakening the victim as 
is the 'sorlon.' I do not know whether you have tried 
that on Terrestrial animals or not. Luckily sorlus is the 
most plentiful of the halogen group; we have far more 
of it than of chlorine, bromine or iodine.” 

"Sorlus? I do not know of it — it must be one of the 
other elements that we do not have on earth. What are 
its properties?” 

“It, too, is much like iodine, but is heavier. It is a black 
solid melting at 570 degrees ; it is a metallic looking ele- 
ment, will conduct electricity somewhat, oxidizes in air 
to form an acidic oxide, and forms strong oxygen acids. 
It is far less active than iodine, except toward oxygen. 
It is very slightly soluble in water. It does not react 
readily with hydrogen, and the acid where formed is not 
as strong as HI.” 

“I have seen so many new things here, I wonder if it 
may not be the element that precedes niton. Is it heavier 
than that?” 

“No,” replied Tonlos ; “it is just lighter than that ele- 
ment you call niton. I think you have none of it." 


“Then it must be the next member of the halogen 
series, Morey. I’ll bet they have a number of those 
heavier elements,” said Arcot. 

Later work identified sorlus as number 85, and morlus 
as number 93 ! There are but 92 elements possible on 
the table, as earth knows them, but Venus has several 
very rare, and some highly radio-active elements, that 
earth does not have. Their table stops at a more logical 
place than does our Terrestrial table. They know of a 
heavy inert gas, number 104. 

The gas was loaded aboard the Solarite that evening, 
and when Wade saw the quantity that they had said 
was “rather disappointingly small” he laughed heartily. 

“Small! They don’t know what that gas will do! 
There is enough stuff there to gas this whole city out of 
business. Why, with that we can bring down any ship ! 
Tell them to go on though, we can use it on the other 
ships.” 

Again that night they spoke with earth, and Morey, 
Senior, told them that work was already under way for 
a hundred small ships. They were using all their own 
ships already, while the Government got ready to act on 
the idea of danger. It was a little hard to convince them 
that someone on Venus was getting ready to send a 
force down to* earth to destroy them. However, the 
ships now under construction would be ready in three 
weeks. They would be unable to go into space, but 
they would be very fast, and capable of carrying large 
tanks of the gas-producing chemicals. 

It was near midnight, Venerian time, when they turned 
in. They must start the next day for the Kaxorian 
construction camp.. They had learned from Tonlos that 
day that there were* but five of the giant planes ready to 
work now, but there were fifteen more under construc- 
tion to make up the fleet of twenty that was to attack 
earth. These fifteen others would be ready in one week 
— or less. When these were ready, the Solarite would 
stand small chance. They must capture one of the giants 
and learn its secret, and then, if possible fight them. 

Their opportunity came sooner than they had hoped 
for — or wanted. It was about three o’clock in the morn- 
ing when the telephone warning hummed loudly through 
the ship. Arcot answered. 

Far to the east and south of them the line of scouts 
that hung in their little planes over all the borders of 
Lanor had been broken. Instantaneously almost, out of 
the dark, its lights obscured, the mighty machine had 
come, striking the tiny scout plane head on, destroying it 
utterly before the scout had a chance to turn from the 
path of the titanic ship. But before the plane was de- 
stroyed the pilot had had a chance to light a magnesium 
flare, a blindingly brilliant flare that floated down on a 
parachute, and in the blaze of white light it gave off, 
the other scouts at a few miles distance, had seen the 
mighty bulk of the Kaxorian plane. At once they had 
dropped to the ground, and then, by telephone lines, they 
had sent their message to far off Sonor. The plane they 
had seen had no doubt been heading for the capital ! 

At once Arcot turned to the others and cried to them 
to get up at once. There was some real action to be* had 
now ! All day they had been doing so little toward the 
thing they knew must come, the battle for two worlds, 
they had wanted action, but they had no weapons except 
their invisibility and the atomic hydrogen. It would 
not sink a plane. It would only break open its armor. If 
it did sink them, they could learn nothing from it, for it 


SOLARITE 


727 


would be the very things they wanted to learn about 
that they would have destroyed. 

A RCOT lifted the Solarite at once high into the air, 
and started toward the point on the border, where 
the plane had been seen crossing. In a short time Wade 
relieved him at the controls while he dressed. 

They had been flying on in silence for about an hour, 
when suddenly Wade made out in the distance the great 
bulk of the plane, against the dull grey of the clouds, a 
mile or so above them. It seemed some monstrous black 
bat flying there against the sky, but down to the sensitive 
microphone on the side of the Solarite came the drone of 
the hundred mighty propellers as the great plane forged 
swiftly along. 

Just how rapidly these giants moved, Arcot had not ap- 
preciated until he attempted to overtake this one. It was 
going over a mile a second now I The ship had but to 
go its own length in about five-eighths of a second to do 
this. It was a lower speed to this monster ; the individual 
molecules of air meant less to it. It made greater speeds, 
both by streamlining and through sheer power, such as 
nothing else could approximate. 

The Solarite was hovering high above the dark ship 
now, the roar of the terrific air blast from the propellers 
below came up to them here as a mighty wave of sound 
that made their ship tremble! The hundred gigantic 
propellers roaring below, however, would distribute their 
gas perfectly. 

"I am going into invisibility. Look out I” There was a 
click as the switch shut, and the Solarite was as trans- 
parent as the air about it. Now Arcot dived the ship 
swiftly in front of the mighty colossus, then pulled 
a small switch shut. There was a low hiss from the power 
room — barely detectable despite the vacuum that shut them 
off from the roar of the plane for the whole ship trem- 
bled. The microphone had long since been disconnected. 
Out of the gas vent now a thin stream of a purplish gas 
was streaming, becoming visible as it left the influence of 
the invisibility apparatus, but only to those who knew 
where to look for it. Those men in that mighty plane 
could not see it — it was invisible to them as their ma- 
chine bore down into the little cloud of gas — but an in- 
stant later the gigantic plane was wobbling in its course — 
it seemed uncontrolled! There was a sudden swerve 
that ended in a nose dive, straight to Venus seven miles 
below all the great propellers roaring, pulling it on. The 
pilot had fallen over his controls. 

That the ship should crash nose on into the ground be- 
low was not at all Arcot’s plan, and he was greatly re- 
lieved as the plane, an instant later, when the rapid 
fall had removed the weight of the man on the con- 
trols, and permitted the plane to balance itself, coming 
again under normal conditions, flattened its dive, and 
started to climb up, its titanic mass rapidly absorbing its 
kinetic energy. Down from its seven-mile height it glided, 
controlling itself perfectly as Arcot released the last of 
the first four bottles of the liquid gas makers, putting to 
sleep the last man on the ship below. 

In a long glide that carried it over many miles, the 
great ship came down. It had sunk far, and gone 
smoothly, but now there loomed ahead of it a range of 
low hills ! It would certainly crash into the rocky cliffs 
ahead — nearer and nearer it came — it might skim above 
those low hills at that — but just then there was a little 
dip, and head on, at nearly two thousand miles an hour, 


the titanic machine crashed into the rocks. Arcot had 
snapped the loud speaker into the circuit once more, and 
now as they looked at the sudden crash below, there came 
slowly to them the mighty waves of sound ! 

The giant plane had hit the top, twenty feet or so of a 
nearly perpendicular cliff. There was a terrific crash 
that was felt by seismographs in Sonor nearly two thou- 
sand miles away ! The mighty armored hull plowed its 
way into the rocks like some gigantic meteor, the hun- 
dreds of thousands of tons crushing the rocky precipice 
like tissue paper, grinding the rocks to powder, and 
shaking the entire hill. The cliff seemed to buckle and 
crack. As the terrific momentum of the huge plane struck 
it, it was torn and twisted. In an instant the plane had 
been brought to rest, but it had plowed through twenty 
feet of rock for nearly an eighth of a mile. For an in- 
stant it hung there, perched perilously in the air, its tail 
hanging out over the little valley below, then slowly, 
majestically it sank, to strike with a reverberating crash 
that broke the heavy armor plate like a match-box ! For 
an instant longer the great motors continued working, the 
roar of the propellers like some throbbing background to 
the rending crashes as the titanic wreck came to rest. 
Suddenly there was a series of crashing explosions, and 
one after the other, the entire series of motors in the 
left wing blew up with awful force. There was a flash 
of light that could be termed a blast ; the terrific brilliance 
seemed to blind the Terrestrians watching this scene of 
awful desolation ; then there came to the microphone such 
waves of sound as it could not record; the Solarite 
seemed to jump with each successive explosion. There 
was no dust at first, only they could see a fused mass of 
metal that they knew had been the wing, broken, rent, 
smashed where each of the fifty motors had been. The 
rocks beneath seemed powdered now, as a great cloud 
of dust rose. Still the motors on the other side of the 
ship were roaring and the giant propellers turned. It 
was these that blew the dust away. The Terrestrians 
stared in unbounded amazement as they saw playing 
from the gaping, broken wing a mighty beam of light of 
such dazzling intensity that Arcot at once restored them 
to visibility that they might shut it out. There was a 
terrific hissing, crackling roar. The plane seemed to 
wobble as it lay there, recoiling from that stream of flam- 
ing gas, it seemed. Where it touched the cliff there was 
intense incandescence that made the rock glow white hot, 
and from it rose clouds of vapor — BOILING ROCKS! 
For five minutes longer this terrific spectacle lasted, while 
Arcot withdrew the Solarite from the plane. The fifty 
motors of the remaining wing seemed slowing down now 
— then suddenly there was such a crash and towering 
flash of light as no human being had ever seen before ! 
Up — up into the very clouds it shot its mighty flame, a 
blazing column of light that seemed to reach out into 
space. The Solarite was hurled back end over end, tum- 
bling, falling. Even the heavy gyroscopes could not hold 
it for an instant, but quickly the straining hum of the 
motors brought the Solarite to rest in air that whirled and 
whined about them. They were over twenty miles from 
the scene of the explosion, but even at that distance they 
could see the glow of the incandescent rock. Slowly, 
cautiously they maneuvered the Solarite back to the spot, 
and looked down on a sea of seething fluid rock ! 

“Lord — what power that thing carries! No wonder 
they can support that gigantic thing in the air! How 
can they keep such awful power under control? There 


728 


AMAZING STORIES 


is no trace of that giant plane ! What titanic forces they 
use ! We can never bring down a ship that way and ex- 
amine it!’' Morey was looking at the glowing rocks in 
awe-struck wonder. Was it possible that what they had 
seen was true — it was no dream? Such forces as they 
had seen were powers to make a world with, to fling out 
of space a blazing sun — these were no such forces as 
man should use! 

Slowly Arcot was drawing away — off into the night — 
into the kindly darkness once more. 

“I wonder what those forces were — they are greater 
than any man has ever before seen 1 An entire hill was 
fused to molten, incandescent rock, let alone the tons and 
tons of metal that made up that ship. 

“And such awful forces as these are to be released on 
our earth I” Slowly Arcot continued his way. For many 
seconds they sat silent as the panorama of hills glided 
by at a slow two-hundred miles an hour. “We must 
capture a ship. We will try again — we will either de- 
stroy, or capture it — and either is to our advantage 1" 

F OR miles they continued thus leisurely on across the 
vast plain. There were no great mountains on Venus, 
for Venus had known no such violent upheaval as the 
making of a moon. They seemed lost in thought, each on 
his own line. At last Wade stood up, and walked slowly 
back to the power room. 

Suddenly the men in the control room heard his call : 
“Arcot— quick — the microphone — and rise a' mile!” 
The Solarite. gave a violent lurch as it shot vertically 
up a mile at tremendous acceleration. Arcot reached 
quickly over and snapped the switch of the microphone — 
suddenly there came to their ears the familiar roaring 
drone of a hundred mighty propellers. No slightest hum 
of motor, only the vast whining roar of the mighty pro- 
pellers. 

"Another one! They must have been following the 
first by a few minutes. We will try to get this one!” 
Arcot was working swiftly at his switches. “Wade — 
strap yourself in the seat there — don’t take the time to 
come up here.” 

The Solarite dived suddenly in front of the great plane, 
and as the nose dipped, it was invisible. They were rush- 
ing along before a mighty giant again, they were drowned 
in a titanic wave of rushing sound — then again came the 
little hiss of the gas. Now there were no hills in sight, 
as far as the eye could reach. In the dim light that 
seemed always to filter through these grey clouds they 
could see many miles. 

It seemed several minutes before there was any effect ; 
these men of earth were waiting for that great ship to 
move, to wobble from its course. Suddenly Arcot gave 
a cry of surprise, startled amazement was written all over 
his face, as his companions turned in wonderment to see 
that he was partially visible! The Solarite, too, was a 
misty ghost car about them ; they were becoming visible ! 
Then in an instant it was gone — and they saw that the 
huge black bulk behind them was wavering, turning ; the 
motors had suddenly died till the thunderous roar of the 
propellers was a whistling whine; the ship was losing 
speed! It dipped, and shot down a bit — gained speed, 
then step by step it glided down — down — down to the 
surface below. The great engines were idling now, and 
the great machine was running more and more slowly — 
its landing speed was surprisingly low — slower and 
slower it went — they were near the ground now — would 


this ship, too, crash ? Would it, too, be lost in a terrific 
holocaust that left the very rocks it crashed in a molten, 
boiling cauldron? It was within a half mile of the 
ground now — then it dipped once more, and Arcot 
breathed his relief as it made a perfect landing, the long 
series of rollers on the base of the gigantic hull seemed 
to spring enough to absorb the shock of that titanic ship 
and the hundreds of thousands of tons of metal as they 
fell through a distance of ten feet. The mighty ship 
rolled smoothly along the ground — there were small 
streams in the way — a tree or two. But these were ob- 
stacles unnoticed by the gargantuan machine. 

Its mighty propellers still idling slowly, the huge plane 
rolled to a standstill. 

In an instant the Solarite had landed beside it, it 
seemed lost in the vast shadows of the mighty metal walls 
that loomed up beside it. 

Arcot had left % small radio set with Tonlos in Sonor 
before he started on this trip, and had given him direc- 
tions on how to locate the Solarite by its means. Now he 
sent a message to him, telling that thd plane had been 
brought down, asking that a squadron of planes' be sent 
at once. 

Wade and Arcot were? elected to make the first inspec- 
tion of the Kaxorian plane, and clad in their cooling 
suits, they stepped from the Solarite, each carrying, in 
case of emergencies, a small hand torch, burning atomic 
hydrogen, capable of melting its way through even the 
heavy armor of the great plane. 

As they stood beside it, looking up at the gigantic walls 
of metal that rose sheer beside them, hundreds of feet 
straight up, it seemed impossible that this mighty thing 
could fly, that it could be propelled through the air. In 
awed silence they gazed at its mighty bulk. 

Then, like invisible pygmies beside some mighty pre- 
historic monster, they made their way along its side, 
seeking a door. 

“Arcot — this is senseless — we cannot do this — the ma- 
chine is so vast that it will take us half an hour of steady 
walking to circumnavigate it — we must go in the Solarite 
to find the entrance!” Wade gestured hopelessly at the 
vast hull. 

It was well they followed Wade’s plan, for the only 
entrance was from the top. There, on the back of the 
giant, the Solarite landed — its thousands of tons affect- 
ing the Titanic machine not in the least. There was a 
trap-door on the back of the plane that led down inside. 
However, the apparatus for opening this was all on the 
inside, so it was necessary to burn a hole in the door be- 
fore they could enter. 

What a sight there was for these men of earth. The 
low rumble of the idling engines was barely audible as 
they descended the long ladder to the interior of the 
gigantic hull. 

It suggested no flying machine as they entered here ; 
more it resembled some great power house, where the 
energies of half a nation were generated. They entered 
directly into a mighty hall that extended for a quarter 
of a mile back through the great hull, and completely 
across the fuselage. To the extreme nose it ran, and 
throughout there were scattered little globes that gave 
off an intense white light. The great room was lighted 
from end to end. There were translucent bull’s-eyes ob- 
scuring the few windows. 

All about, among the machine, lay men, dead they 
seemed, though the two Terrestrians knew that they 


SOLARITE 


729 



It sug- 
gested no 
flying machine 
as they entered here; more it re- 
sembled some great power-house, 
where the energies of half a 
nation were generated. 


1P\ OWN to the next floor they went. Down a long 
staircase, down, down, down many feet, for now 
they reached the main room, it seemed. It was as long as 


could be restored to life readily. The great machines 
thdy had been tending were humming softly, almost in- 
audibly. There were two long rows of them. Down all 
the great hall they were, mighty generators they seemed, 
generators that loomed twenty feet high, but from their 
peaks ran great tubes two feet thick of solid fused quartz. 
Then from these led other rods of fused quartz, rods that 
led down through the floor, but these were more slender ; 
scarcely over eight inches thick. 

The huge generator-like machines were disc-shaped, 
except that on one side of each there was a little cylinder 
at the center, like a bearing. From these, too, there ran 
a quartz rod, down through the floor. The machines 
on the further row were in some way different; those in 
the front half of the row had the tubes leading down to 
the floor below, but they had no tube leading to the roof 
above; instead, there were many slender rods leading over 
to a gigantic switchboard that stretched along all one 
side of the great room. Only the front halt had instru- 
ments on, and few of these instruments had controls. 
But everywhere were the great quartz rods, leading about 
like some complicated water system. They were usually 
painted black though the main rods leading from the roof 
above were clear as the crystal they were made of. 

The Terrestrians looked at these gigantic machines in 
hushed awe — they seemed impossibly huge — it was incon- 
ceivable that all this was but the power room of an 
airplane ! 


the one above, and higher, yet all that vast space was 
taken by one single, titanic coil that stretched from wall 
to wall! Into it, and from it there led two gigantic 
columns of fused quartz. That these were rods, such as 
those smaller ones above was obvious, but each was over 
eight feet thick ! 

Short they were, for they led from one mighty gen- 
erator such as they had seen above, but magnified on a 
scale inconceivable ! At the end of it, its driving power, 
its motor, was a great cylindrical case, into which led 
a single quartz bar ten inches thick, and this bar seemed 


730 


AMAZING STORIES 


alive now with living, glowing fires, that changed and 
maneuvered and died out over all its surface and through 
all its volume. ,The motor was but five feet in diameter 
and a scant seven feet long, yet obviously it was driving 
the great machine, for there came from it a constant low 
hum, a deep pitched song of awful power. And the 
huge quartz rod that led from the titanic coil-cylinder 
was alive with the same glowing fires that played through 
the motor rod. From one side of the generator, though, 
there ran two things that were familiar, copper bus bars. 
But even these were THREE FEET THICK! 

The scores of quartz tubes that came down from the 
floor above joined, coalesced, and ran down to the great 
generator machine, and into it. From it ran a similar 
quartz bar up to that front battery of machines that had 
been working upstairs, and these were alive with the 
strange force that lived. 

Down again they went to another floor. Here were 
other quartz tubes, but these led down still further, for 
this floor contained individual sleeping bunks, and most 
of them were unoccupied, unready for occupancy, though 
some were made up. 

Down another level ; again the bunks, the little indi- 
yidual rooms. 

At last they reached the bottom level, and here the 
great quartz tubes terminated in a hundred smaller ones, 
and each of these led into some strange mechanism. But 
there were sighting devices on it, and there were ports 
that men might see down. It was evidently designed as 
the bombing room. 

Now the Terrestrians walked through the vast city of 
the dead to the front of the machine, and passed sleeping 
officers, and on the third level they came at last to the 
control room. Here were? switchboards, control panels, 
and dozens of officers, sleeping now, beside the instru- 
ments they had been tending. There was a sudden thud- 
ding that made the earth men jump, as an automatic relay 
adjusted some mechanism. 

There was one man stationed apart, at the very bow 
he sat, protected behind eight-inch coronium plates, but 
in them were set masses of fused quartz that were nearly 
as strong as the metal itself. These gave him a view in 
every direction except directly behind him. Obviously, 
here was the pilot. 

To the top level they went again, and now they entered 
the long passages that led out into the titanic wings. 
Throughout, the ship was brightly lighted. Now they 
came to a small room, another bunk room. There were 
great numbers of these down both the sides of the long 
corridor, and along the two parallel corridors down the 
wing, but in the fourth corridor near the back edge of 
the wing, there were bunk rooms on one - side, and on 
the other were bombing posts. 

As they walked down the corridor further, however, 
along this first one, they soon came to a small room, 
whence came the low hum of one of the motors. Enter- 
ing, they found the crew sleeping, and the motor idling. 

“Good Lord! Look at that motor! Arcot — it’s no 
bigger than the trunk of a man's body ! Yet it can spin 
that huge propeller at a speed that will send this ship 
hurtling along at a mile a second! Just think of the 
awful power of that big thing driving the generator! 
And it had a ten-inch bar of quartz leading into it! 
What powers did those eight-foot quartz rods carry? 
No wonder that machine back there blew up so terrifi- 
cally !” Wade was sobered by the thought of the titanic 


energies that were represented by these giant rods. 
Slowly they proceeded down the long hall. At each 
of the fifty engine mountings they found the same con- 
ditions. At the end of the hall there was a stairway that 
led one level higher, into the upper wing. Here they 
found long rows of the bombing posts and the corre- 
sponding quartz rods. 

They returned finally to the control room. Here Arcot 
spent a long time looking over the many instruments, 
the controls, and the piloting apparatus. 

“Wade, I think I can see how this is done. I am going 
to stop those engines, then start them, then accelerate 
them till the ship rolls a bit !” Arcot stepped quickly over 
to the pilot’s seat, lifted the sleeping pilot out quickly, and 
settled in his place. 

“Now you go over to that board there — that one — and 
when I ask you to, please turn on that control — no the 
one below — yes — turn it on about one notch at a time.” 

“All right Arcot — just as you say — but when I think 
of the powers you are playing with — well it isn’t healthy 
to make a -mistake !” laughed Wade. He was nervous, 
perhaps, but the excitement of the adventure, of con- 
trolling the awful forces there in the ship behind him — 
they were too much of an inducement ! 

“I’m going to stop the motors now.” All the time they 
had been on board, there had been the' low whine of the 
motors barely audible. Now suddenly, it was gone, and 
the plane was still as death ! 

“I did it without blowing the ship up after all — now 
one more — we are going to try turning the power on !” 

S UDDENLY there was a throaty hum ; then quickly it 
became the low whine ; then, as Arcot turned on the 
throttle before him, he heard the tens' of thousands of 
horsepower spring into life — and suddenly the whine was 
a low roar — the mighty propellers out there had be- 
come a blur — then with majestic slowness the huge ma- 
chine moved off across the field ! 

The motors were shut off now as they made their way 
again up through the ship, up through the room of the 
titanic cylinder coil, and then into the power room. Now 
the machines were quiet, for the motors were no longer 
working. 

“Arcot, you didn’t shut off the biggest machine of all 
down there. How come?” 

“I couldn’t, Wade. It has no shut-off control, and if 
it did have, I wouldn’t use it. I will tell you why when 
we get back to the Solarite" 

At last they were out of the mighty machine, walking 
once more across the broad metal roof. Here and there 
they now saw 1 the ends of those quartz tubes. Once 
more they were entering the Solarite, through the air 
lock, and taking off the cumbersome heat suits. 

As quickly as possible Arcot outlined to the two 
who had stayed with the Solarite the things they had 
seen, and the layout of the titanic ship. 

“I think I can understand the secret of all that power, 
and it is not so different from the Solarite, at that. It, 
too, draws its power from the sun, though in a different 
way, and it stores it within itself, which the Solarite does 
hot try to do. 

“It has been known since the days of Einstein that 
mass is a representation of energy. It is a - measure of 
energy, just as weight is a measure of mass. The amount 
of mass a body has depends solely on the amount of en- 
ergy it contains. Thus, to say that a thing has a mass 


SOLARITE 


731 


of one gram is equivalent to saying it contains 900000000- 
000000000000 (9x10") ergs of energy. Similarly, the 
converse is true, and any energy, if it be that many ergs 
of energy, it has a mass of one gram no matter what 
form it has. That is the reason why a mass grows greater 
when it goes faster ; it is acquiring kinetic energy, and 
hence more mass — the mass of the kinetic energy. 

“Light is energy, and light, therefore, has mass. That 
is obvious when you stop to think of it. It exerts pres- 
sure, the impact of its moving units of energy— photons. 
We have electrons and protons of matter, and photons of 
light. Now we knaw that the mass of protons and elec- 
trons will attract other protons and electrons, and hold 
them near — as in a stone, or in a solar system. Now the 
new thing is that photons will attract each other in the 
same way — by the law of mass gravitation they will at- 
tract each other ever more and more powerfully, the 
closer they get. The Kaxorians have develojied a method 
of getting them so close together, that they will, for a 
while at least, hold themselves there, and with a little 
‘pressure’ they will stay there indefinitely. 

“Wade, in that huge coil and cylinder we found there 
we saw the main power storage tank.. That was full of 
gaseous light-energy held together by its own attraction, 
plus a little help of the generator.” 

"A little help? Quite a little ! I’ll bet that thing has a 
million horsepower in its motor I” 

“Yes — but I’ll bet they have nearly fifty pounds of 
light condensed there — so why worry about a little thing 
like a million horsepower? They have plenty more 
where that comes from. 

“I think they go up above the clouds in some way and 
collect the sun's energy. Remember that Venus gets 
twice as much as the eartlv. They focus it on those tubes 
on the roof there, and they, like all quartz tubes, conduct 
the light down into the condensers where it is first col- 
lected. Then it is led down to the big condenser down- 
stairs, where the final power is added, and the condensed 
light is stored. 

“Quartz conducts light just as copper conducts elec- 
tricity — those are bus-bars we saw running around there. 

“The bombs we have been meeting recently are. of 
course, little knots of this light energy thrown out by 
that projector mechanism we saw. When they hit any- 
thing, the object absorbs their energy — and is very 
promptly volatilized by the heat of the absorption. 

“Do you remember that column of hissing radiance 
we saw shooting out front the wrecked plane just before 
it blew up? That was the motor connection, broken, 
and shooting out its energy freely. That would ordi- 
narily have supplied all fifty motors at about full speed. 
Naturally, when it got loose, it was rather violent. 

“The main generator had been damaged, no doubt, so 
it stopped working, and the gravitational attraction of the 
photons wasn't enough, without its influence to hold them 
bound too long. All those floods of energy were released 
instantaneously, of course. 

“Look — there come the Lanorians now. I want to 
go back to Sonor and think over this problem. Perhaps 
we can find something that will release all that energy — 
though honestly, I doubt it.” 

Arcot seemed depressed, overawed perhaps, by the 
sheer magnitude, the titanic brute force that lay bound 
up. It seemed inconceivable that the little Solaritc could 
in any way be of avail against the gargantuan machine. 

The Lanorian planes were landing, on the wings, the 


fuselage, the ground beneath all about the gigantic ma- 
chine. Arcot stood gazing moodily through the window, 
looking at the mighty bulk that rose black and austere 
beside him, a mighty giant, stricken now, but only sleep- 
ing; in its vast hulk lay such energies as man had never 
before controlled ; within it he knew there were locked 
the titanic powers of the sun itself. What could the 
Solarite do against it? 

“Oh, I forgot to mention almost — in the heat of the 
fight back there it went almost unnoticed.” ‘Arcot was 
talking slowly, dejectedly.’ “Our only remaining 
weapon — except the gas, is useless now. Do you remem- 
ber how the ship seemed to lose its invisibility for an 
instant ? I learned why when we investigated the great 
ship. Those men are physicists of the highest order. I 
must acknowledge that we must realize the terrible 
forces, both physical and mental that we are to meet. 
They have solved the secret of our invisibility, and now 
they can neutralize it. They know that we will no longer 
be able to use that. They began using it too late that 
time, but they had located the radio-produced interfer- 
ence, due to the ship’s invisibility apparatus, and they 
were sending a beam of interfering radio energy at us. 
We are invisible only by reason of the vibration of the 
molecules in response to the radio impressed oscillations. 
The molecules vibrate in tune, at terrific frequency, and 
the light can pass perfectly. What will happen, how- 
ever, if some one locates the source of the radio waves 
by means of a standard radio directional receiver? It 
will be a simple process to send a beam of radio waves 
along that same direction — and touch our invisible car 
with it. The two radio waves impressed on the car now 
will be out of step anc( the interference will instantly 
reveal the car. The huge ship there can get vastly more 
energy into their apparatus than we can get in ours and 
naturally they can make us visible. They will do so — 
and we can no longer attack them either with our atomic 
hydrogen blast, nor with the gas — it is useless unless we 
can get close to them, and we can not come within miles 
of them. Those bombs of theirs are effective at a distance 
of ten miles — above that they disintegrate automatically. 

“We were protected from them as long as we were 
transparent, too, for the bombs could pass right through 
us just as they passed through the air. Only opaque 
bodies are susceptible.” 

A GAIN he fell silent, standing morosely at the win- 
dow — thinking — hoping for an idea that would en- 
able them once more to have hopes of winning. 

“Wait a minute fellows — I’m going out to speak with 
the Commander-in-Field here. Then we can start back 
for Sonor — and maybe we had best start back for earth. 
It looks as though there is little we can do here.” 

Briefly he spoke to the young Venerian officer, and told 
him that the ship could be left there undestroyed if he 
would open a certain control just before he left. Arcot 
showed him which one — it would drain out the power 
of the great storage tank, throwing it harmlessly against 
the clouds above. The Kaxorians might destroy the 
machine if they wanted to — Arcot felt that they would 
not wish to. They would hope, with reason, that they 
might recapture it ! It would be impossible to move that 
tremendous machine without the power that its “tank” 
was intended to hold. 

Slowly they were cruising back to Sonor. Arcot was 
still standing by the window of die ship, thinking. 


732 


AMAZING STORIES 


Would it be that Venus would fall before the attack 
of the mighty planes, that they would sweep out across 
space, to Earth — to — Mars — to other worlds, a terrific 
cosmic menace? Would the mighty machines soon be 
circling earth — defenseless — the greatest of the 30-inch 
rifles would be unable to more than dent that eight inch 
coronium armor. It was more than equivalent to twenty- 
four inches of steel. They would be invulnerable; the 
planes would be unable to get near enough to drop bombs 
on them. O.nly the molecular motion machines would 
even give them a battle ! Perhaps these could be armored 
with twenty-inch steel walls, and driven fn a suicidal dive 
into the great propellers, or at miles a second, into the 
ship itself ! It was the only hope it seemed ! But these 
ships would require long hours, days, even weeks to 
build, and in that time the Kaxorian fleet would be 
ready. It would attack earth within six days now ! What 
hope was there? 

In despair Arcot turned and strode quickly down the 
long hallway of the Solaritc. Above him was the smooth, 
even hum of the sweetly functioning generator, but it 
could only remind him of the titanic energies he had seen 
led about that night. The thudding relays in the power 
room, as Wade maneuvered the ship, seemed some di- 
minutive mockery of the giant relays he had seen in the 
mighty power room of the Kaxorian plane. 

He sat down in the power room, .looking at the stacked 
apparatus, neatly arranged, as it must be, to get all this 
apparatus in this small space. Then at last he began to 
think more calmly. Slowly he tried to think of the 
greatest forces man knew of — and there were only two 
that even occurred to him as great ! One was the vast 
energies he had that very night learned of ; the other 
was the force of the molecules, the force that drove his 
ship. 

He had had no time to work out the mathematics of 
the light compression, and it was mathematics that would 
give results now he knew. There remained only the 
molecular motion. What could he do with it that he had 
not done? 

He drew out a small black notebook. In it were 
symbols, formulas, and page after page of the intricate 
calculus that had ended finally in the harnessing of this 
great force that was even now carrying him smoothly 
along. 

Half an hour later he was still busy — covering page 
after page with swiftly written formulas. Before him 
was a great table of multiple integers, the only one like it 
known to exist in the System, for the multiple calculus 
was an invention of Arcot’s. At last he found the ex- 
pression he wanted, and carefully he checked his work, 
excitedly though now, with an expression of eager hope 
— it seemed logical — it seemed correct 

“Morey — oh, Morey — if you can come here — I want 
you to do some Math for me — I have done it — and I 
want to see if you get the same result independently!’’ 
Morey was a more careful mathematician than he, and 
it was to him Arcot turned for verification of his new 
discovery. 

Following the general directions Arcot gave him, 
Morey went through the long series of calculations — and 
arrived at the same result. Slowly he looked from the 
brief expression he had ended with 

It was not the formula that astonished him — it was 
the physical significance it had. 

“Arcot — do you think we can make it?” 


“I hope so, Morey. If we don’t, Lanor is lost beyond 
a doubt — and probably the earth is, too. Wade — come 
here a minute, will you — let Fuller take the controls, and 
tell him to push it. We have to get to work on this.” 

Rapidly Arcot explained their calculations — and the 
proof he had gotten. 

“Our beam of molecular motion-controlling energy di- 
rects all molecular motion to go at right angles to it. The 
mechanism so far has been a field inside a coil really, but 
if this is right, it means that we can project that field to 
a considerable distance even in air, a beam of power that 
will cause all molecules in its path to move at right ajigles 
to it, and in the direction we choose, by reversing the 
power ii\ the projector. That means that no matter how 
big the thing is, we can tear it to pieces, — we will use its 
own powers, its own energy, to rip it, or crush it. Imagine 
what would happen if we directed this against the side of 
a mountain — the entire mass of rock would at once fly 
off at terrific speed, several miles a second, crashing 
ahead with terrific power, as the molecules suddenly all 
moved in the same direction. Nothing in all the Universe 
could hold together against that ! It is a - disintegration 
ray of a sort — a ray that will tear, or crush, for we can 
either make one half move away front the other — or 
we can reverse the power, and make one half drive to- 
ward the other with all the terrific power of its mole- 
cules ! It is omnipotent — hmm — but it has one limita- 
tion. Will it reach far in the air? In vacuum it should 
have an infinite range — in' the air all the molecules of the 
air will be affected, and it will cause a terrific blast of icy 
air, air at temperatures far below zero ! This will be even 
more effective on Venus! But we must start designing 
the thing at once ! Take some of the Immorpho and give 
me some, and we can let the sleep accumulate till we have 
more time ! Look — we are already in Sonor — we must 
land, Fuller — right where we were, and then come back 
here. We arc going to' need you !” 

The gorgeous display of a Venerian dawn was already 
starting in the East as the great buildings seemed to rise 
silently about them. The sky, which had been a dull lu- 
minous grey, a grey that rapidly grew brighter and 
brighter, was now like molten silver, through which the 
early rays of the intense sun were filtering. Now, the 
sun rose above the horizon, invisible for clouds. But' still 
it was traceable by the wondrous shell pink that began 
to suffuse the ten-mile layer of clouds. The tiny drop- 
lets were, however, breaking the clear light into a million 
rainbows, and all about the swiftly deepening pink there 
were forming concentric circles of blue, of green, orange, 
and all the colors of the rainbow, repeated time after 
time — a wondrous halo of glowing color, which only the 
doubly intense sun could give. 

"It’s almost worth missing the sun all day to see their 
sunrises and sunsets.” The men were watching it, de- 
spite their need for haste. It was a sight the like of 
which no Earthman had ever before been privileged 
to see. 

And then immediately they plunged into the extremely 
complex calculation of the necessary electrical apparatus 
to produce the necessary fields. To get the effect they 
wanted, they must have two separate fields of the direc- 
tor ray, and a third field of a slightly different nature, 
which would cause the director ray to move in one direc- 
tion only. It would be disconcerting, to say the least, if 
the director ray, by some mistake, should work in the 
opposite direction ! 


SOLARITE 


733 


T HE work went on even more swiftly than they had 
hoped, but there was still much to be done on the 
theoretical end of the job alone when the streets about 
them began to fill. They noticed that a sizeable crowd 
was collecting, and shortly after they had finished, after 
some of those people had stood there over an hour and 
a half, the crowd had grown to great size. 

"From' the looks of that collection, I should say we 
are about to become the principals in some kind of a 
celebration that we know nothing about. Well, we are 
here, and in case they want us* we are ready to come. 

The usual guard that always surrounded the Solarite 
had been doubled, and was maintaining a fairly large 
ring about the ship. 

It was shortly* after that that they saw one of the high 
officials of Lanor come down the walk from the govern- 
mental building, walking toward the Solarite •. 

“Time for us to appear — we may as well all show up 
for once. I’ll tell you what they say afterward, Wade. 
They have gone to considerable trpuble to get up this 
meeting, so let’s oblige by all going out. I hate to slow 
up the work so, but we will make it short.” 

The four Terrestrians donned the cooling suits, and 
stepped outside the ship. It was the first time they had 
all been outside the ship together ! 

“Earthmen, we have gathered here this morning to 
greet you and thank jou for the tremendous service you 
have done us. Twice you have saved this city from 
utter destruction. Across the awful void of empty space 
you have journeyed forty million miles from your planet 
to visit us, only in time to discover that Venerians were 
making ready to attack your world. Now you have 
helped us, saved our cities. 

"There is, of course, no adequate reward for this ser- 
vice; we can in no way repay you, but in a measure we 
may show our appreciation. We have learned from' the 
greatest psychologist of our nation', Tonlos, that in your 
world aluminum is plentiful, but gold and platinum are 
rare, and that morlus is unknown. I have had a small 
token made for you, and for your friends. It is a little 
plaque, a disc of morlus, and on it there is a small map 
of the Solar System. On thq reverse side there is a 
globe of Venus, with a globe of earth beside it, as well as 
our men could copy the small globe you have given us. 
The northern hemisphere of each is shown — America, 
your nation, and Lanor, ours, thus being shown. We 
want you, and each of your friends, to accept these. 
They are both tokens of our great indebtedness to you, 
and symbols of your wonderful flight across infinite 
space!” The Venerians turned to each of the Terres- 
trians and presented each with a small metal disc, about 
three inches in diameter. 

"On behalf of myself and my friends here, two of 
whom have not had an opportunity to learn your lan- 
guage, I wish to thank you for your great help at the 
time when we most needed it. You have saved more 
than a city — you have made it possible to save a world — 
your earth. But the battle here is but just begun. There 
are now in the Kaxorian camp eighteen great ships. They 
have been badly defeated in the three encounters they 
have had with the Solarite so far. But no longer will 
they be invulnerable. I have learned that the first plane, 
the plane which was first attacked by the Solarite is still 
undergoing repairs. They are patching the great hole 
that was melted into its side. That will be completed 
within two days, and then, when they can leave a base 


guard of two ships, they will attack once more. Further- 
more, they will attack with a new weapon. They have 
destroyed the usefulness of our weapon, invisibility, and 
in turn, now have it to use against us 1 We must seek 
out some new weapon. I hope we are on the right track 
now, but every moment is precious, and we must get back 
to the work on it. This address must be short. Later, 
when we have completed the plans, we will have to give 
plans to your workmen, which you will be able to turn 
into metal, for we lack the materials. With this help we 
may succeed., despite our handicap.” 

The address was terminated at once. The Lanorians 
were perhaps disappointed, but they realized the neces- 
sity of developing all the powers they could. 

“I wish Terrestrian orators spoke like that,” remarked 
Morey as they returned to the ship. “He said all there 
was to say, but he didn’t run miles of speech doing it. 
He was a very forceful speaker, too !” 

“People who speak briefly and to the point generally 
are,” Arcot said. 

"Perhaps so, but it would be much more intelligible if 
you would tell me what these plaques they gave us are 
for. I hope they were gifts — they look expensive!” 
said Wade smiling at the little piece of blueish metal. 

Arcot told him the gist of the speech as quickly as pos- 
sible. Then they at once settled back to their work. 

It was nearly noon that day before the theoretical dis- 
cussion had been reduced to practical terms. They were 
ready to start work at once, but they had reason to work 
cheerfully now. Even through air they had found their 
ray would be able to reach 35 miles! They would be 
well out of the danger zone while attacking the gigantic 
planes of Kaxor. 

Morey, Wade and Arcot at once set to work construct- 
ing the electrical plant that was to give them the neces- 
sary power. It was lucky indeed that they had thought 
to bring the great mass of spare apparatus ! They had 
more than enough to make all the electrical machinery. 
The tubes, the coils, the condensers, all were there. The 
generator would easily supply the power, for the terrific 
forces that wer,e to destroy the gargantuan ships of the 
Kaxorians were to be generated in the plane itself. It 
was to destroy itself; the Solarite was merely the det- 
onator that set it off. 

PULE the Physicists were busy on this, Fuller 
was designing the mechanical details of the projec- 
tor. It must lie able to turn through a spherical angle of 
180 degrees, and was necessarily controlled electrically 
from the inside. The details of the projector were 
worked out by six that evening, and the numerous cast- 
ings and machined pieces that were to be used were to 
be made in the Venerian machine shops. 

“Wade, come here and help me reduce this, will you?” 
asked Arcot. He was working with Fuller on the last 
details of the plans. They were putting in the dimen- 
sions that the Lanorians might understand. 

“Their length unit, the ‘tsorrt,’ is exactly 19.2 centi- 
meters. I had a measuring rod here, and compared 
them — but the system is something like the metric — with 
this difference. Their entire mathematics is based on the 
duo-decimal system! Their unit, thetsorn, is divided into 
twelve parts, each an ‘abtsorn,’ and similarly multiplied 
to make an ‘ortsorn.’ Since their units are on the basis 
of twelve, they naturally have their lengths in a system 
based on twelve. Now we have to reduce the centi- 


.734 


AMAZING STORIES 


meters here on Fuller’s drawings to equivalents in the 
tsorn system. 

“Remember that a new system of numbers means a 
new multiplication table. 

“They have digits that we don'i have. They count ‘or,’ 
‘tel,’ ‘mur,’ and so on, but in English they would say, one, 
two, three, and so on to nine. Then remember that for 
the next digit they have a single symbol. It happens to 
be something like this, /, and similarly eleven is \A 
They have twelve now, but they write it — well I can 
explain it better this way ; it corresponds to 10. It means 
one times twelve. To them, 20 would mean two times 
twelve, or 24 units to us. Now 100 will mean twelve 
times twelve or one hundred and forty-four units. The 
difficulty comes in when we start multiplying. For in- 
stance, seven times five is thirty-five to us. They would 
write it, 7 X 5 — 2\/ — that is ‘twenty-eleven’ or two 
times twelve plus eleven. Now by the time you intro- 
duce such things as twenty-eleven, and clcventy-eleven 
into your system, the old decimal system looks sort of 
crippled! The thing we were working on just now 
was the problem of reducing .2 to the duo-decimal sys- 
tem. Of course, I could say 1/5 in either system, but I 
want to put it in a duo-decimal. Let’s sec — five into 1 
goes .2 and two to carry — the next now is 4 and then 9 
and then 7 and so it’s a repeating decimal. The answer 
is .2497. Now let’s go on.” 

The problem of working in a new multiplication sys- 
tem was decidedly time-consuming. It was hard to re- 
member that 23 — 18 = 7 and similar peculiar things. 
But it was done, and at last the work was under way. 

It was night soon, .and still the Terrestrians were 
working. The V cnerian workmen had promised to have 
the apparatus for them by ten o’clock the next morning 
— or what corresponded to ten o’clock. Their day was 
divided into twelve equal portions — sensibly, for their 
numbers were on the duo-decimal system. Wade had 
been curious to know 1 why they had chosen that basis. 
It was, of course, as good as any other, and easy to work 
with, no doubt, when you were accustomed to it — but 
why twelve? Arcot pointed out that a Vcnerian has six 
fingers on each hand, just as a man has five. When man 
was learning to count, he used his fingers to keep track 
on, and so, no doubt, had the Venerians done. Naturally 
they counted by twelves. 

That night Arcot sent to earth the full details of the 
new ray. If they did not succeed with it, or were in 
some way destroyed, earth would at least be able to build 
up the necessary apparatus. 

The time passed quickly, and it was shortly after three 
o’clock that morning when they finally finished the appa- 
ratus and had the controls connected to the control room 
and the last of the projector directors in place ; they were 
ready, all but the projector, and Morey, Wade and Ful- 
ler turned in to get what sleep they could before ten the 
next morning. But Arcot told them there was something 
lie wished to get, and took another dose of the Immorpho, 
then stepped out into the steaming rain. It was neces- 
sary to wear gloves to prevent the hot rain from scalding 
him, though the heat suit covered him otherwise. Out 
into the rain he went, and across to the great government 
building. Then up quickly to the government chemistry 
laboratory. 

Wade woke the next morning shortly before ten, and 
rose quickly, calling the others. Arcot would be back 
soon, so Fuller started the breakfast. 


It was scarcely ten minutes later when Arcot did re- 
turn, with half a dozen Venerians following him, each 
carrying a large metal cylinder in a special cradle. These 
were attached to the landing runners of the Solarite. 
The men inside watched with interest as the Venerians 
wired them on quickly and deftly. They were arranged, 
however, so that the fusing of one piece of wire would 
permit the entire thing to drop free, but it was virtually 
impossible for them to come free otherwise. 

"What was that you were working on there, Arcot?” 
asked Wade as he entered the ship. 

"It is an idea I want to try out — and I am going to 
keep it a deep dark secret for a while. I think you will 
get quite a surprise when you see those bombs in action ! 
They are arranged to be released by turning current into 
the landing lights. We will have to forego them for the 
present, but I needed the bombs more than the lights just 
now. I think they will be successful. The current will 
melt the wire that; holds the main wire supports together. 
There were no' other connectors leading out through the 
wall of the ship, so I had to use them. The mechanics 
have finished working on those projector parts you de- 
signed, Fuller, and they will be over here in a short time. 
Here comes the little gang I asked to help us. You can 
direct them. They will Weld the parts in place, and drill 
the holes for the wires where you say. You know where 
the best places will be, since you designed the ship, so 
you take charge of the gang. Hang it all — when they 
drill into the outer wall, we will lose the vacuum between 
the two walls, and all that hot air will come in. This 
place will be roasting in a short time, and we won’t be 
able to walk comfortably for a week! Well, we have 
some molecular motion coolers. 

"Oh, I wonder if we can’t use the generator — oh no, 
I forgot that we had decided to isolate that from the 
main room by vacuum wall. Otherwise we could let it 
use the heat of the rooms. I think we had better charge 
up the gas tanks and the batteries as soon as this is done. 
Then tonight we will attack the Kaxorian construction 
camp. It will be best to attack them before they attack 
us again. I don’t like the news I just got cither. There 
have been no reports from the spies the Lanorians sent 
over — they arc sure to spring some surprise on us soon ! 
We had best get over there !” 

O HORTLY later the sound of the drills, then the whis- 
tling roar as the air sucked into the vacuum, told 
the men inside that the work was under way. It soon 
became uncomfortably hot as, the vacuum destroyed, the 
heat came in through all sides. It was more than the 
little molecular motion coolers could handle. They had 
been designed to work iri the ship which was being heated 
only by the heat of the human bodies. This was too 
much for them, and the temperature soon rose to about 
a hundred and fifteen. It was not as bad as the Venerian 
atmosphere, for the air seemed exceedingly dry, and the 
men found it possible to get along without cooling suits, 
if they did not work. Since there was nothing they could 
do as yet, they had no cause to be hot. 

It was nearly dark before the men had finished their 
work, and the gas tanks had been recharged. All that 
time Arcot had spent consulting with Tonlos trying to 
get information about the position of the Kaxorian con- 
struction camp. Due to the long years that had passed 
since communications had been cut off with Kaxor, it 
was impossible to know much about the southern hemi- 


SOLARITE 


735 


sphere. However, the spies that had been at work in 
Kaxor had gotten several maps through to the Lanorian 
government. The difficulty came in that Kaxor had not 
mapped the northern hemisphere, and therefore the two 
maps could not be made to align themselves very exactly. 
The old maps helped a great deal, but still it was impossi- 
ble to do very accurate work by these means. 

It was finally determined that the Kaxorian construc- 
tion camp was about 10,500 miles to the southwest. The 
Solarite was to start an hour after dark — they wanted to 
reach the camp just after nightfall, but since it was 
nearly four thousand miles to the west, it was necessary 
to wait an hour after dark in Sonor, and then make the 
trip, since it would be a three-hour trip, and they would 
in this way get there at the desired time. 

They had no fear that they would miss the camp in the 
dark. Such a vast landing field as would harbor those 
giant machines was large enough to spot at night. The 
lights would be visible for miles around, no doubt. 

The Solarite was moving swiftly along. The sky was 
slowly growing a bit lighter as they went toward the 
west. They were catching up on the sun. But now, as 
they saw the rolling ocean beneath them give way to low 
plains, they realized they were over Kaxorian land. The 
Solarite was flying very high, and as they showed no 
lights, and were not using the invisibility apparatus, they 
would be almost undetectable. Suddenly they saw the 
lights of a mighty city looming far off to the east. 

“Kanor, pass well to the west of it. That is their 
capital." Wade was at the control, Arcot was to control 
the projector. Now he was telling Wade the directions 
to follow on his course to the berth of the giant planes. 

The city had dropped far behind them now, and an- 
other, and another. They were entering a region of low 
hills, age-old folds in the crust of the planet, rounded off 
by untold ages of rains. Low they loomed against the 
grey horizon of the clouds. 

"Easy, Wade. We are near now.” Mile after mile 
they shot on at about a thousand miles an hour — then 
suddenly they saw far off to the east a vast light that 
reached into the sky, and seemed to paint itself on the 
clouds there miles above. 

“There it is — off there — go high, and easy 1” 

Swiftly the Solarite climbed into the air. They were 
nearly five miles above the field now. Below them they 
saw a field. From this height all sense of proportions 
seemed lost. It seemed but an ordinary field, with eight- 
een ordinary airplanes resting on it. One of these now 
was moving, and in a moment it was rising into the air! 
But there seemed to be no men on all the great field. 
They were invisibly small from this height, and as they 
moved about the field, overshadowed by the titanic planes, 
they were lost. 

“They are rising— look— there are men entering those 
other ships ! Their surprise is that they have completed 
the ships far ahead of the time we expected! If all that 
armada gets in the air, we will be helpless despite our 
ray — we must destroy as many as we can before they 
leave the ground. They are grouped and we can destroy 
more in less time. Quick — drop to within a few hun- 
dred feet of the ground, and come in close to the field !” 

The Solarite sank like a stone — down they shot with 
a sickening lurch, as they fell the distance of five miles 
to the ground below. There was a sudden tremendous 
weight as the ship was brought to rest not more than 
two hundred feet from the ground. Rapidly now Wade 


shot it in as close to the field as he dared. The planes 
loomed gigantic now. their true proportions showing 
clearly against the brilliant light of the field. There 
was one mighty wave of sound coming from the loud- 
speaker as the planes rolled across the ground to leap 
gracefully into the air — half a million tons, of metal ! 

From the little ship there reached out a pale beam of 
ghostly light, a light that was faintly grey, tinged with 
red and green — the ionized air as the beam. In an instant 
the whirr of the hundreds, thousands of giant propellers 
was drowned in a terrific roar of air. Great snowflakes 
were falling from the air before them; it was white 
with the solidified water vapor. Then came a titanic 
roar and the planet itself seemed to shake! There was a 
crash, a snapping and rending as a mighty fountain of 
dirt and rock shot high into the air, and with it, twisting, 
turning, hurled in a dozen directions at once, twelve ti- 
tanic ships were flying high into the air ! For an instant 
there was a silence that was oppressive, as the ray was 
shut off. Then again there was a roar that slowly 
grew to a mighty cascade of sound as the millions of 
tons of rock and dirt fell back. Some of it had gone 
miles up. Now it came down, but not with the same 
speed it went up. In a few moments the ground was as 
it had been before apparently, except that it seemed 
newly turned, and over it all there lay a white blanket of 
ice and snow. But it was quickly dissolving. 

T_T IGH above there were ten planes flying about in the 
A A air — suddenly one turned, headed for the ground 
far below, and was coming down at terrific speed, the 
wings screaming their protest as the motors pulled, ever 
faster, with the gravity of the planet aiding them. There 
was a rending, crackling crash as the wings suddenly bent 
back along the sides. An instant later the plane was 
falling freely ; the wings falling, twisting, turning down. 

The Solarite seemed to leap as from a gun as it shot 
swiftly away from the spot — away and up, with a force 
that nailed the occupants to the floor. Then behind them 
was a mighty gout of light that struck to the very clouds 
above, and all the landscape, for miles about, was visible 
in the glare of the released energy. 

Back there on the plain was a great spot of loose dirt, 
and in the center a spot that glowed white, and seemed to 
bubble. It was molten. 

Nine great planes were circling in the air, then of an 
instant they were gone, and no man could find them, but 
the Solarite was darting a Way with a speed that defied 
the aim of any machine, 

High above the planes they went, for in the radio di- 
rection control Arcot could trace them. They were cir- 
cling, searching for the Solarite. 

The tiny machine was invisible in the darkness, but its 
invisibility could not be located by the radio detectors. 

“Wade, how is it those ships can be invisible when 
they are driven by light, and have the light stored in 
them?” asked Fuller. “They are perfectly transparent. 
Why is it they can be made invisible without the light 
making them stand out ?” 

“They are storing the light. It is bound— it cannot 
escape. You cannot see light unless it literally hits you 
in the eye. That cannot reach you, for it is held by its 
own attraction and by the special field of the big 
generators there.” 

They seemed to be above one of the Kaxor planes now. 
Arcot caught the roar of the invisibility set. 


736 


AMAZING STORIES 


‘‘To the left, Wade — faster — hold it — left — ah!” 
Arcot pushed a button. 

Down from the Solarite there dropped a little canister, 
one of the bombs that Arcot had prepared the night 
before. To hit an invisible target is ordinarily difficult, 
but when that target is far larger than the proverbial 
side of a barn, it is not very difficult, at that. But now 
Morey was watching for the crash of the explosion, the 
flash of light. What sort of bomb was it that Arcot 
hoped would penetrate that tremendous armor? 

Suddenly there was a great spot of light — it seemed to 
spread with startling rapidity, a patch of light that ran, 
and moved. It was flying through the air at terrific 
speed. The light was a pale green that seemed to flow 
and ebb; it had a strange ghostly appearance. 

For an instant Morey and the others stared in utter 
surprise at it. Then suddenly Morey burst out laughing. 

“Ho — you win Arcot — that was one they didn’t think 
of, I'll bet ! You have them on that one, and they never 
will put that out 1” 

For an instant longer Wade looked in puzzled won- 
der ; then he too saw the secret, and began laughing. 

“Luminous paint — and by the gallon ! You had enough 
to paint a city with. I suppose it is radium paint, and 
no man has ever found how to stop radium, so they are 
stuck — and that plane sticks out like a sore thumb ! Their 
invisibility may make the paint invisible, but it can’t 
make the light it gives out invisible !” 

Indeed the luminous paint made the gigantic plane 
clearly visible now against the grey clouds. Visible or 
not, that plane was marked. 

Quickly now Arcot tried to maneuver the Solarite 
over another of the invisible planes, for now the danger 
was only from those he could not see. Suddenly he 
had an idea. 

“Morey — go back to the power room and change the 
adjustment on the meteorite avoider to half a mile!” 
At once Morey understood his plan, and hastened to put 
it into effect. The illuminated plane was diving, twisting 
wildly now. Suddenly Arcot focused his attention on it. 
The Solarite dived down toward it with sickening speed, 
then suddenly the gigantic bulk of the plane loomed off to 
the right of the tiny ship, the great metal hull, visible 
now, rising in austere power. They were too near, and 
Wade shot the machine to a greater distance — then again 
that ghostly beam reached out — and for just a fraction 
of a second it touched the giant plane. 

The titanic engine of destruction seemed suddenly to 
be in the grip of some Colossus so far vaster than it, 
that it was but a fragile toy in the terrific grip — and he 
closed that grip! The great plane jumped back with a 
terrific crash, a mighty roar of rending steel, of torn 
metal and snapping beams. There was a sudden crash. 
For an instant there came the sound as of some mighty 
buzz-saw as the giant propeller of one wing cut into the 
body of the plane as it came crushing in upon it. Then, 
in that instant, the great power storage tank was split 
open. It seemed like the bursting of a world. The 
Solarite was hurled back with the force of an explosion 
that seemed to split the very atoms of the air, and all 
about them was a terrific blaze of intense heat and light 
that seemed to sear their faces and hands with the 
intense rays. 

Then, in a time so short it seemed never to have hap- 
pened, it was gone, and only the distant drone of the 
other ships’ propellers came to them. There was no 


luminous spot. The radium paint had been destroyed 
in the only possible way — it was volatilized through all 
the atmosphere ! 

The Terrestrians had known what to expect; had 
known what would happen ; and they had not looked at 
the great ship in that last instant. But the Kaxorians 
had naturally been looking at it. The men who had 
never seen the sun directly, they had been looking at it, 
and their eyfcs were lidless now, for their invisibility 
afforded them no protection. They were temporarily 
blinded ; they could only fly a straight course in response 
to the quick order of their squadron commander. 

And in that brief moment that they were unable to 
watch him, Arcot dropped two more bombs in quick suc- 
cession. Two bright spots stuck out in the black night. 
No longer did these planes feel themselves invulnerable, 
able to meet any foe! In an instant they had put on 
every last trace of power, and at their top speed they 
were racing west, away from their tiny opponent — in the 
only direction that was open to them. 

But it was useless. The Solarite could pick up speed 
in half the time they could, and in an instant again Arcot 
was training the beam on the mighty splotch of light 
that was a fleeing plane. These planes, which had been 
invulnerable through sheer size, were helpless now. 
Through their very mass they were slow in pickup, and 
the lightning-fast Solarite was bearing down on them. 

Out of the dark came a ghostly beam, for an instant 
of time so short that before the explosive shells of the 
other could be trained on it, the Solarite had moved, and 
before it the mighty plane was crumpling, splintering 
under the titanic driving blow of the great wing, as it 
shot toward the main body of the plane at several miles 
a second — driving into and through it. The giant plane 
was twisting, turning, falling swiftly to the dark ground 
below — then again there came that world-rocking explo- 
sion, that mighty column of light, and there was no ship 
there. The companion ship had shot away from the ter- 
rific explosion with a mighty lurch, tumbling, twisting. 
Then there came a slow, grinding crack, and under that 
terrific stress the wing broke, and fell suddenly free of 
the plane! Turning — falling ever faster, the pilot was 
struggling to turn the nose of the plane up, hoping the 
engines might hold it from its fall. There was suddenly 
a mighty gout of light, a great blazing trail of light that 
reached out behind it — then suddenly the tail of the 
mighty ship was glowing white hot — flaming. Then 
again the plane was turning, twisting down, helpless. 
There was a terrific crash; the mechanical noise of its 
collision was followed an instant later by the greater 
crash, as all its energy storage was released. 

But to remind the men of the Solarite that they were 
not alone, there came a sudden report just behind them, 
and they turned to see that one of the energy bombs 
had just fallen short of them! In an instnat the ship 
was shooting up at terrific speed, out of danger. It 
looped, turned, and was hunting, feeling with the dis- 
turbance locater for that other ship. The ships were 
spread out more now. In every direction they could be 
located — and all were leaving the scene of battle. But 
one by one the Solarite shot after them, and always the 
speed of the little ship was greater. 

Two escaped. They turned off their useless invisibil- 
ity apparatus and could not be found, for, lost, in the 
night, they were invisible and unlocatable. 

Morning found the Solarite once more over Kanor, 


November, 1930 


SOLARITE 


737 


the Kaxorian capital. Arcot had learned that the lan- 
guage of both these peoples was almost identical. Now 
he was using his radio, sending his message toward the 
city. It was long before he got his reply. Perhaps it was 
that the Kaxorians were almost afraid to reply, for they 
had seen an awful demonstration of power! 

"I am of earth. We want only peace. We will have 
peace, but we prefer to have it by peaceful means, not 
by destroying you and your city. There is a mountain 
to the west of your city. In ten minutes that mountain 
will suffer the fate that will meet your city if you cannot 
agree to our terms of peace.” 

Great rocky cliffs loomed before the tiny ship. They 
were composed of a green, heavy rock. Suddenly there 
reached out a thin, wan beam, a ray of light that was 
scarcely visible in the light of the dawn. But there was 
a mighty roar, a terrific tornado, and with it a fall of 
great snowflakes. But there was another fall. The rock 
suddenly moved with a terrific lunge to the right, half 
the mountain seemed driving against itself, moving of its 
own accord, and there was a vast crash of colliding rock. 
Then suddenly, as if by magic, great cracks appeared in 
the plain all about it. 


The Solarite hung high above the city — and ten miles 
away to the west, just beyond the range of any guns 
that might accidentally go off. Beyond the city, off to 
the north, there was a vast cloud of dust settling over a 
mass of crushed stone. There was a low mound here, 
spread out wide on the flat plain. 

We know the rest. Kaxor was but a victim of bad 
rulership. The ruler, lusting for greater power, seeing in 
the discovery of a scientist the necessary means to his 
ends, had made use of the discovery of the light-power 
condensation, and his fleet of mighty planes was the 
result. He had refused to yield to Arcot and the Solar- 
itc. He was found blasted by a small handlight gun. 
They never tried too hard to find the assassin, but many 
people might have been able to give information. Can 
we blame them ? They were perhaps the most advanced 
people we have ever met. Their scientific discoveries are 
of immense value to both planets, and to those people 
on far out Jupiter’s moons. 

But our metal supplies are no longer a source of worry. 
Perhaps in a million years — but who knows what man 
will do in a million years? 


The End 


The Drums of Tapajos 

By Capt. S. P.Meek, U.S.A. 

( Continued from page 699) 


this country for years, but I always put it down to native 
legends until I saw that white man. Even then, I 
thought that he was probably only a rubber prospector 
who had got lost in the jungle and had gone crazy with 
the fever. There was something to that yarn after all.” 

“They are apparently highly civilized, remarked Mar- 
iston. “What do you make of the deal, Dune?” 

"I am entirely at sea," I replied. “There is no doubt 
that Nahum is highly civilized ; at least he is a thorough 
gentleman and a splendid linguist and must know a great 
deal about sound, mechanics and electricity to be able 
to perform the engineering feats that we have witnessed. 
Who or what he is, I can't hazard a guess.” 

“Well, we’ll learn in time,” said Nankivell cheerfully. 
“In the meantime, I am going with Bob to take a bath 
and see if he told the truth about that razor. Also I’ll 
be glad to get into some other clothes. These are pretty 
filthy to eat a civilized dinner in.” 

We explored our quarters and found two rooms, each 
equipped with two broad divans that looked invitingly 
soft. Each room connected with a bathroom, containing, 
among other appurtenances, a deep tub of some sort of 


stone with huge copper faucets of a peculiar design set 
in the wall above it. On the wall hung a sizable mirror, 
and on a shelf below it lay razors, towels, a basin of 
liquid soap and everything else we could ask for. 

“That’s what I call service,” said Nankivell as he 
began to disrobe. “I wonder where our new clothes are.” 

A short search revealed a closet in which hung four 
robes of the same type as that which Nahum had worn 
except that they had blue borders instead of crimson 
and the colored border was embroidered with silver 
thread instead of gold. The sandals were equipped with 
blue and silver bands to match the robes. 

The luxury of that shave and hot bath surpassed any- 
thing that I had experienced for years. I never before 
realized how much the appurtenances of civilization really 
meant to my comfort. Our dirty clothing we tossed 
into the closets and donned our sandals and robes. The 
outfit was awkward at first, but we soon got used to it 
and I never wore more comfortable clothing in my life. 
We returned to our “drawing room,” as Nankivell 
called it, and threw ourselves full length on luxurious 
divans and waited for Nahum to appear. 


End of Part I. 


The lineal 
Stimulator 

/ F, as psychologists say, the subconscious mind registers and forever retains 
every impression that comes its way, it seems logical enough that in 
some natural manner these impressions or “ memories ” should be transmitted 
to succeeding generations. A discovery of a machine or ray, perhaps, that 
would act on the pineal gland in such a way as to make it possible for the 
subject to recall experiences of his ancestors for ages back could probably 
give us a wealth of valuable data that has never been recorded in the books. 

A newspaper man and a scientist got together to write this short scientific 
fiction story and made it one of unusual merit. 


I T began as an undergraduate dodge; a typical 
Jimmy Casmey dodge. Jimmy Casmey, best of 
friends and roommates, most brilliant of students 
and — most talented drinker in Theta Delta Chi. 
Jimmy took a not unreasonable pride in the 
string of A’s that adorned his semester report card, and 
saw no reason why any human being should be in bed 
before two o'clock in the morning. It was a matter of 
utter indifference to him whether the hours preceding 
bis bedtime were spent in studying the latest Smith- 
sonian report or in tipping over tall ones at the Old 
Vienna Bar and Grill. This was the morning after one 
of the nights spent in tipping over tall ones. 

Biology, Professor Ward, was the first-hour class. 
It was a recitation day, and Jimmy’s evening having been 
spent as it was the chance of his being caught unpre- 
pared with resultant damage to the semester’s A was 
excellent. It became a certainty when Professor Ward 
started at the beginning of the alphabet instead of with 
the M’s. He worked down through Ahrens, Allen, 
Bartlett and Bensinghurst. Burkard came next, and 
after him, Casmey, James. The ax was about to fall. 

“Describe the pseudopodia and their function in 
Amoeba,” said Ward, in his most judicial manner, 
“Mr. . . . er . . . Burkard,” and as Burkard climbed 
fumblingly from his seat, "Dear me, Mr. Burkard, un- 
prepared again? Let’s ” But Jimmy, getting on his 

feet, interrupted. He was carrying the fight into the 
enemy’s country. 

“May I ask a question, professor?” 

“What is it, Mr. Casmey?” 

“Since the paramoeciuni reproduces by dividing in 
halves, you said the other day it was practically immortal. 
Now I would like to know if a paramoecium had a 
memory, couldn’t it remember everything that had hap- 
pened to it since the beginning of time? . . . that is, since 
the first paramoecium.” 

Ward smiled indulgently. “Theoretically, I suppose 


it would be possible,” he admitted. “However, it is 
pretty obvious that the paramoecium has no memory. 
Memory implies brain cells, which are specially dif- 
ferentiated tissue, and a paramoecium is all composed of 
one kind of tissue, the sole concern of which is to exist. 
Does that answer your question ?’’ 

“Well, in a way . . . but . . .” Jimmy was a trifle 
confused, but was making a brave effort, “what I was 
leading up to was this, sir. . . . Isn’t there a pretty 
close analogy between the reproduction of the higher 
animals and that of the paramoecium? . . . That is, the 
larger animals grow out of a single cell, which divides 
itself into other cells with specialized functions. Origi- 
nally that cell is a part of the parent; that is, it has 
divided from the parent by fission, just like the para- 
moecium. It seems to me that if it is theoretically pos- 
sible for the paramoecium to retain memories clear 
back, it should be theoretically possible for the more 
complex animals. They are not complete new creations, 
but parts of their parents. And if it’s theoretically 
possible, why shouldn't it be practically possible ?” 

Ward rubbed his chin vigorously. “Well, we know 
that practically it is impossible, don't we ?” he retorted, 
with a smile. “However, I will grant that in point of 
theory there is something to be said for your view. It 
is known that the subconscious holds memories of every 
event the individual has participated in since birth, and 
as you say, if since birth, why not pre-natal memories 
also? The difficulty is to get at those memories and 
bring them to the surface. Now Freud thinks . . 

He was off, and the day was saved. Jimmy sat down, 
amid the grateful glances of a delighted class. Anybody 
who could put one over on Ward like that. . . . 

A FTER graduation it was a couple of years before 
I saw Jimmy again. When I came back for the 
big game with Bucknell, Jimmy, who had stayed on at 
the old college as a laboratory assistant in biology, met 


738 



*J. . . I shouted with triumph 
as 1 bore her off to r, 
house, her dear 
close against 


me at the station. I was shocked by the change in him. 
He used to be a natty dresser; now he was distinctly 
frowzy and his breath smelled of bad gin. I wondered 
briefly what the college authorities thought of that ; de- 


cided that they didn’t worry as long as he "did his work 
well, and dismissed the subject from my mind. His 
handclasp, at least, was as warm as ever. 

I was a little loath to accept the hospitality of a 
friend who must be far from flush, but he insisted, and 
I did not wish to hurt him with a refusal. After the 
game, accordingly, we foregathered in his room, hoarse 
with shouting, to discuss old times. 

The room was typical of the man. On the mantle- 
piece a tube of jelly (containing God knew what deadly 
germs) stood next to an empty gin bottle; the desk was 
piled with a wilderness of papers, vast and drear, in the 
wildest disorder. From under the bed a box marked 
suspiciously “XXX” poked its end, and a row of small 
lizards, each in its separate alcoholic tomb, formed a 
decorative frieze around the plate rail some architect had 
installed. And the floor was a perfect maze of appa- 
ratus, chemical and physical, one big brown object that 
looked like a magic-lantern occupying most of the 
space. 

“Hullo, Jim, what have you got there?” I asked, 
pointing to the object. "The secret of the death ray?” 

"Here,” he said, handing me the glass he had been 
filling. “Take this. No, that's just a piece of monkey 
business I’ve been fooling with. ’Fraid I been spending 
a little too much time and money on it.” He took a 
drink. 


By I. M. Stephens and 
Fletcher Pratt 


Illustrated by PAUL 


739 


740 


AMAZING STORIES 


“Well, go on," I said, “what's it all about? I’m 
waiting." 

“Well . . He smiled sourly. “The truth is that I'm 
not just sure of myself and Herries thinks I’m stewed or 
crazy when I try to talk about it. I can't even get him 
to give it a trial." (Herries was the head of the depart- 
ment.) Now normally, brilliant young laboratory as- 
sistants don’t care what heads of departments think, nor 
do they drink too much gin when rebuffed. It must be 
something quite serious — or too altogether wild for Her- 
ries to credit. 

“I’m not Herries, you know,” I told him. “Tell me 
about it.” 

He finished his glass, and then sat for a moment, 
looking into the bottom of it. “I will tell you,” he said 
finally. “You remember, a long time ago, when Ward 
called on me one day when I was unprepared, and I 
asked him a lot of fool questions about subconscious 
memory? I got to thinking about that and couldn’t quit, 
and the more I thought about it, the more I began to 
wonder why there wasn’t some way to get at subcon- 
scious memories. 

“The big question was just where they were located. 
You know there is a lot of junk spread around about 
the different parts of the brain having different func- 
tions, and all that, but nobody has ever proved any- 
thing much. I felt that if I could find the part of the 
brain dealing with subconscious memory, 1 could find 
a way to stimulate activity. Of course it wouldn’t do to 
try stimulating the whole brain; that meant stimulating 
the conscious as well as the subconscious and would 
bury anything subconscious deeper than ever. 

"So I experimented. I boned up on surgery and tried 
all sorts of tricks, mostly on rats and chickens, cutting 
out first one part of the brain and then another, and ob- 
serving how they acted afterward. I got a lot of interest- 
ing results, even made a report on it which they printed 
in the ‘Bulletin’ — ” lie motioned indifferently toward the 
Everest of papers on the desk — “but nothing bearing on 
what I wanted, till one day when I was working with 
some lizards. 

"One of my lizards was a freak. It exhibited no 
fear whatever of me or of any larger animal at all; on 
the other hand, it practically had to be taught to swim ; 
didn't appear to know what water was for. In short, it 
seemed to be altogether without instincts. If it had been 
out on its own, it would have been killed in short order. 

“I dissected that lizard’s brain under a microscope, 
looking for the peculiarities; if there were any. You 
know the instinct and the subconscious have been closely 
connected by so many biologists that it’s practically 
certain they are the same thing. Well, I found only one 
difference between the brain of that lizard and any other 
lizard. It had no pineal eye. You know what the pineal 
eye is?” 

I shook my head, “So long since I studied biology ” 

I began apologetically. 

lie got up, a trifle heavily. “Here, have another 
drink. Won't kill you. . . . The pineal eye is right in 
the middle of the top of the head of most lizards ; right 
in the roof, so to speak. In Sphcnodon, the New Zea- 
land Tuatera, it’s particularly prominent. Has all the 
earmarks of an eye except that the lizard can’t see with 
it. A shaft of light has no effect on it. Now, it’s a 
peculiar fact that though the pineal eye has been found in 
many animals, ancient and modern, it’s of no use as an 


eye even to the most archaic. And it seemed to me that 
it might have some other function ; that is, that it might 
be able to record sensations like an eye, but to record 
them in a different way ; in other words that it might be 
the repository of instincts, gradually accumulating them 
from other parts of the brain. The pineal eye is very 
small, but then, it takes a long time to build up sub- 
conscious impressions enough to form an instinct. You 
see? 

“So I started out from there. I began taking the 
pineal eyes out of my rats and chickens. It involved a 
lot of delicate vivisection, and more than half the time I 
killed them, but I did get results. They seemed to be 
deprived of instincts, just as the lizard had been. . . .” 
His voice trailed off into silence. “I suppose I would 
get a lot of credit for that if I made a report and it 
were checked,” he remarked in an altered tone. “But I 
was waiting for the rest of my experiment and now 
Herries won’t believe me. I believe he’s going to turn 
me out at the end of this semester.” 

“But what's that got to do with this siege gun?” I 
put in remorselessly, to recall him to the subject of the 
discourse. 

“Oh, yes. I was telling you about my apparatus. 
Well, it seemed to me that if 1 could stimulate that use- 
less pineal eye in some way I should get the subconscious 
up to the level of the conscious. I tried drugs first. I 
admit the result was pretty much of a failure. It didn't 
occur to me till later that there was no use stimulating 
the pineal eye of a rat or chicken and poking around in 
its subconscious. Even if I did succeed in awakening 
old memories how was the animal going to tell me about 
it ? I had to get something that would work on humans. 
So I tried X-rays. But I had a serious problem there. 

"X-rays, you know, vary in their penetrative power. 
Those that have the greatest penetrative power also 
have the greatest effect on living tissue, but it is in the 
main an inhibitory effect. That is, it checks tissue, 
slows it up. That’s why they use radium in cancer — 
because it emits rays of very high penetrative power 
which check the growth of the noxious tissue. Now 
what I wanted was something that would have pene- 
trative power enough to penetrate the skull and the brain 
and reach the pineal eye (which in man is way inside 
the brain) and yet have a stimulating instead of a de- 
pressing . . . Have another drink?” 

I motioned it impatiently away. “Yes?" I said. 

“Well, I got it. To make a long story short, I got it. 
. . . It’s a machine that produces rays not very different 
from Millikan’s cosmic radiation; highest penetrative 
power known. I don’t know whether I can explain it to 
you in terms you'll understand, but I manage to shoot a 
beam of these cosmic rays into the brain and down the 
beam carry a stream of stimulating light rays. ... It 
works.” 

“What then?” I asked. 

“What then? Why, you oaf , don't you see ? Herries 
thinks I’m crazy or full of booze. I described my re- 
sults to him, and got him to try it on himself. He had 
the nerve to insist that I had hypnotized him. I sup- 
pose . . 

1 DON’T know whether it was the two drinks I had 
had or the excitement of the Bucknell game. “Would 
you like to try it on me?” I asked. “Does it still work?” 
He lighted up. “I should say so. Sit right here and 


THE PINEAL STIMULATOR 


741 


relax, will you? And try to remember what you’ve 
been through when you come out of it. I’m not going 
to hypnotize you or anything, remember. Just stimulate 
your subconscious a little. Close your eyes.” He was 
connecting up the machine and pointing its gun-like 
peak toward me. 

I sat back in the chair, folding my hands, and closing 
my eyes obediently. Jimmy’s ideas — I remembered the 
time he had been dragged half-dead from the chemistry 
laboratory after trying the effect of some chloramine com- 
pound on himself and filling the place with noxious gas. 
Great chap, Jimmy; his funny . . . and suddenly every 
thought was blotted out in a wave of light that seemed to 
strike me not through my eyes but through the side of 
my head. 

There was a whirl of kaleidoscopic impressions; I 
was pushing the swing under the chestnut trees for 
Viola Schultz (like myself, twelve years old, and pos- 
sessed of the most elegant blonde curls) ; I was sliding 
down a steep bank of snow on a new Christmas sled; 
faces, father’s and mother’s, large and distant at the end 
of tall bodies that towered over a tiny me ; more faces, a 
whirling mist and 

It was cold. 

We pushed close around the fire in spite of the smoke 
of the green wood. The ice that had made every tree a 
different kind of frosted cake on the day before might 
be melting, but it was still cold for us after three cam- 
paigns in Georgia and Alabama. 

"Well, think old slow-trot Thomas will get a-going 
today?” asked Peleteiah Brooks, drinking his coffee 
noisily under his big moustache in the steely light of 
dawn. 

"No, he’s a-waiting for some of that Iowa popcorn 
to lie on the fields to show the way for Steedman’s 
sutlers,” said somebody else and we all laughed. 

"Tell you what ’’began Peleteiah, but before he had 

finished the sentence there was a ring of far-away bugles, 
growing nearer and nearer down the long line of canton- 
ments as company after company caught it up. We 
gulped down the last of our coffee, chewed off the re- 
maining bites of hardtack and hurried to fall in as the 
assembly call came nearer. Captain Harbord, we all 
knew, was a touchy man. 

Off to the right among the hills, a battery had opened 
fire, white puffs of smoke drifting down from their 
position, as the racketing sound woke the Johnny Rebs 
to activity over there. We could see a certain stirring 
across the valley ; and in the intervals of the artillery fire, 
the pounding of hoofs on the road was clearly audible. 
A thrill of excitement ran through the company as it 
formed up. Something was stirring. To left and right 
other regiments were forming, too. 

There was General Cox, on his tall white horse, 
groomed like a dandy, and surrounded by staff officers. 
He reined in opposite Company C and spoke briefly. 
“Men of the Seventy-third Indiana,” we heard, and then 
as the breeze carried his voice away, "blah, blah — these 
intrenchments — blah, blah, blah.” There was a burst 
of cheers, drowned in the crash of more artillery, over 
which a bugle sang suddenly, urging us forward. "For- 
ward — March !” cried Captain Harbord, and we stepped 
out, out of the shelter of the woods, twisting our way 
through the rifle pits, halting to dress line. The morning 
was suddenly full of noise, and spurs of red flame shot 
through the line of the rebel Chcvaux de frisc, followed 


by little puffs of smoke. A man beside me chuckled, 
and turning my head to see the cause of his laughter, 
I noticed he was kicking on the ground, blood pouring 
from his throat. 

It was a long way across the valley; the smoke grew 
thicker; more men fell, and Captain Harbord, putting 
his hat on the point of his sword, suddenly began to run 
forward, crying to us to come on. Then a sudden night- 
mare of tangled tree-tops pointed toward one; a sight of 
a Johnny Reb with his rifle aimed right between my 
eyes, and the ghastly look of the same man as someone 
in blue struck him from the side; a sudden vision of a 
deep muddy ditch with dead men in it, and a few grey 
figures running far, far ahead, across the field, for the 
shelter of a little wood. A flag! I was cheering, and 
running after the grey figures. 

Somehow, I must have gotten ahead of or separated 
from the rest. There was a road, a woodland road, down 
which I ran frantically after a man in grey, who hurried 
on, hatless, before me. I was gaining on him when he 
turned in toward a little log house that bobbed up sud- 
denly at one side. He put his hand out for the door, 
and in that moment of pause I was upon him, swinging 
furiously with my clubbed musket. It broke down the 
arm he had flung up as a guard and crushed his skull 
like an egg. And as I stood in the lust of battle, breath- 
ing hard above my dead enemy, the door opened slowly 
and a woman with the loveliest eyes I have ever seen 
stood in the aperture looking down at us. “You've 
killed him.” she said, and then her voice breaking, “oh — 
you beast !” And she knelt by the side of the rebel. But 
I could only look on in dumb misery, for I knew this 
was the girl I should always love. . . . 

Faces, faces, endless whirls of movement, through 
which I passed, living teons. A bright word spoken here 
or a costume there rising to the surface of conscious- 
ness. But out of the mist mostly nothing until . . . 

W E did not dare go far from the trees because of 
the creodonts. They had killed Waugh and little 
Nana not many days before and there was a taboo on 
leaving the trees. All the rest had forgotten why the 
taboo had been laid ; all but me. But Waugh shared the 
same tree-house with me and now I was cold at night, 
so I remembered. That is, I remembered at night, and 
shivered when I thought of the creodonts. 

I had made a song when the creodonts took Waugh. 
It was a good song; quite the best song I ever made, 
and everybody in the world had heard it. To make 
them all hear it I beat two pieces of stone together for 
a music. They were big useless stones, not at all good 
for throwing-stones. But as I beat them together and 
made a music for Waugh, a peculiar thing happened. 
The spirit of Waugh entered into the stones and one 
of them broke across and it was a good throwing-stone. 

I took that good throwing-stone and with it I killed 
an eohippus among the trees, which was the greatest 
luck. So that the spirit of Waugh helped me by a power- 
ful magic because I made a song for him, and a music 
by beating two stones together. I know it was the spirit 
of Waugh and a magic because when I tried to beat 
two stones together again, without making a song for 
Waugh, they did not crack across evenly and had to 
be thrown away. The spirit of Waugh was very exacting. 
I had tried again later, making the song for him again, 
but I had not used the same stone, and again I got no 


742 


AMAZING STORIES 


throwing-stone. So I threw these pieces away too, and 
ate nuts. 

But I wanted another eohippus, and I knew if I could 
find the right stone the spirit of Waugh would he satis- 
fied. So I was looking for it and Pel was helping me. 
That is, he was pretending to help. Really he was hunt- 
ing along his .stomach where the hair is short for fleas, 
and grunting. He was always grunting and groaning ; a 
most conversational idiot. 

“It is very foolish,” said Pel, plucking out a flea, "to 
look for throwing-stones here. Everyone knows they 
have all been picked up long ago." But I did not tell 
him about the stone I was looking for. It would have 
spoiled the magic to tell him. And I did not want to spoil 
the magic. If I could get another eohippus and throw it 
on the fire I was going to build under liiy tree I might 
get Akh to sit beside me in my tree-house in place of 
Waugh. Akh was very fond of the smell of roasting 
eohippus, and I had a plan. When she smelled it and 
came to sit beside the fire, looking around cautiously, 
I would drop the magic stone on her head suddenly from 
above, and drag her up to my tree-house. 

At last I found the stone. Pel looked at me scorn- 
fully when I picked it up. “Anybody can see that stone 
is no good for a throwing-stone,” he said, “it’s too 
heavy. “Come on, let’s look for acorns. The eotitanopses 
must have left some,” and he went off, swinging a stick. 

But he came back when I sat down and began to beat 
the magic stone against another stone, making a song 
for Waugh. They sat around in a circle, listening and 
watching. Finally Pel said, “Waugh? I remember some- 
one by the name of Waugh." 

They had all forgotten about him, all but me, you sec. 
I did not wish to tell them, because it would spoil the 
magic, so I said, “He is in the sun. He looks at me.” 
And just then the stone I was beating with the magic 
stone of Waugh split across. But it was not a good 
split, whether because of the presence of Pel or because 
my song was not good, I do not know. So I let the 
pieces lie and made another kind of song for Waugh, 
very slow and solemn, beating the stone together care- 
fully. And first one small chip fell off and then an- 
other, and the spirit of Waugh aided me and I had the 
most beautiful of throwing-stones. 

The others all looked on in amazement, and said it 
was a good magic. And Pel said it was due to the spirit 
of the sun, whose name was Waugh and that we should 
all bow before the sun. So all the rest bowed before 
the sun, but I knew. And then Rom, who had found 
a dead eotitanops the day before and had taken it to his 
tree-house, picked up the first stone I had cracked with 
the magic stone of Waugh. It had a long sharp edge 
down one side. “Look,” he said, holding it in his hand, 
and struck it down the side of the tree. It left a long 
mark. Then Rom climbed the tree and brought down a 
coconut and struck it with the chip of stone, and the 
husk of the coconut fell apart. 

"It is better than a throwing-stone,” he said, “it is a 
striking-stone!” And Pel said, “Great is the magic of 
Waugh.” But I went off to hunt an eohippus. 

It was two days before I got one at the spring, where 
a herd of them were drinking. My throwing-stone 
struck him straight and true in the neck, and he fell 
with a squeal, while the rest pattered off among the 
leaves. I shouted with triumph and praised the name of 
Waugh as I gathered up the little body and bore it back 


to my tree. From Om I borrowed fire and on the blaze 
cast the eohippus, not waiting to find a striking-stone 
to tear it apart. Then I climbed to the tree and sat there 
with the magic stone of Waugh in my hand. 

And even as I had hoped Akh came presently around 
another tree, looking about to see if anyone were wait- 
ing; looking about cautiously and then placing herself 
by the fire, where she could watch the blaze gathering 
around the eohippus. And I dropped the magic stone 
of Waugh on her head, sure and straight, aided by the 
spirit of Waugh, which was the spirit of the sun. And 
again I shouted with triumph as I bore her off to my 
tree-house, her dear furry body close against my side. . . . 

T HERE was a swift uprush of light like a million 
Auroras, and I was suddenly awake in my chair, 
with Jimmy standing over me, and my head aching 
violently. “Oh . . ."I said. 

“An experience, what?” he queried, all smiles now. 
“Tell me what you saw.” I described to him the scenes 
I had passed through. 

“The subconscious exerts a certain selection,” he said 
slowly, when he had taken his place again. “That’s 
why, you know, our dreams never accurately picture 
things. At least Freud thinks so. That is. the sub- 
conscious selects the best bits. I should say that in your 
case the connected dreams represent the most intense 
emotional experiences of your particular line of descent. 
That Waugh part was interesting, but there’s no way 
of checking up on it. But tell me, was one of your 
ancestors in the Civil War?” 

I nodded. "My grandfather. I believe he was in the 
Seventy-third Indiana, too. He married a Southern 
girl. I don’t know about the battle, or the rest of it, 
though. But my sister has a lot of his old letters and 
I’ll have a look through them if you’d like." 

“By all means do,” said Jimmy. “It would give me a 
lot of encouragement and believe me, I need it. . . . Have 
a drink. . . . Most of the results can’t be checked. That’s 
one of the difficulties with Herries. The last time I tried 
it I got a scene in the Irish rebellion of 1798, to judge 
from the costumes and talk. It was quite horrible.” He 
shuddered. “Heads on pikes.” 

“Why in the world don’t you chuck tip your job here, 
old man, and start out on your own?” I offered. “A 
thing like this would make you for life, if you got before 

any scientific body with it. Why ” 

“Pure prosaic question of cash. And Herries has 
pretty well discredited me with any scientific body that 
might be interested. You don’t understand the practical 
difficulties. If I go to the general public I’ll just be an- 
other charlatan. But I think I have a way of getting 

around it, if you’ll help me. Listen 

“If I change the character of my ray, without altering 
its wave length, it seems to me that I might be able 
to alter the character of the stimulation applied to the 
pineal gland. Now if I altered the character of the 
stimulation, what would I get? I think I would get a 
dip into the future. The cells of our body; that is, 
the central cell, as we may call the pineal, has been eternal 
up to the present, and therefore holds the memories of 
the past. But it will also be eternal into the future for 
so long as we have descendants. And if this central 
cell has stored up the memories of the past, it must also 
have within it the reflexes of the future. For reflex 
actions, the things we do without thought in sudden 


THE PINEAL STIMULATOR 


743 


emergencies, may be traced to the same source as in- 
stincts. Now if the reflexes are stored in the pineal, so 
must some prediction of the occasions on which they will 
be used, and I want to go fishing for it.” 

I shook my head. “I’m afraid I don’t follow your line 
of argument,” I told him. “Even the subconscious 
can't have any memory of a thing which has not yet 
happened.” 

A shadow crossed his face. “Yes, I know. You’re 
like the rest of them. You think I’m wool-gathering.” 
His tone was accusatory. 

“Oh, for the love of mike, Jimmy, snap out of it. Your 
idea may be crazy, but I’m willing to go the limit with 
you in helping you put it over. What do you want me 
to do?” 

He lighted up at once. “Just work this machine for 
me. Wait a minute. . . . I’m going to take you up on your 
offer.” He dived into the intricacies of a mass of wires 
and tubes with a pair of long, thin pliers. 

“Here’s the switch,” he said, digging away. “All you 
have to do is turn it on, I made the thing as foolproof 
as possible, expecting that I'd have to deal with a lot of 
chaps like Herries. . . . Don’t leave me under longer than 
thirty minutes. Just turn the switch back when you want 
to bring me out of it. I gave you fifteen minutes, but 
this was your first experience, and I didn’t want to put 
too much of a strain on you at first. I can stand thirty, 
all right.” 

He seated himself in the chair I had occupied. "The 
beam of light ought to strike me just behind and above 
the ear,” he instructed me further. If it doesn’t, swing 
it a little here. All right, ready go.” And he closed his 
eyes. 

Obediently I -snapped the switch. There was a sizzling 
sound and a shaft of vivid violet radiance issued from 
the machine to strike Jimmy just as he had predicted 
on the side of the head, above and behind the ear. I 
glanced at my watch ; when I looked up again, he had 
sagged a little to one side, his face wearing the peaceful, 


contented expression of those who sleep dreamlessly. 

For a few minutes nothing happened. The machine 
cracked and gurgled, the shaft of light flowed on. It 
was really growing frightfully late, thought I, looking 
at my watch and yawning. Then an inarticulate sound 
came from Jimmy, and I looked up. He had shifted 
again a little, and his face was working curiously, almost 
as though he were in pain. I sprang to shift the machine 
again to bring the ray to the proper position, and as I did 
so, Jimmy’s features froze into an inhuman- expression 
of horror, and from his lips came a great cry, "The 
yellow men ! Gaz ! Gaz !” and he slumped down into the 
chair, a dead weight, as I shut off the current with 
fumbling fingers. 

The doctor who arrived presently talked of myo- 
carditis, nervous breakdowns and various other learned 
subjects at great length. Out of all of it I managed to 
extract the information that Jimmy should be taken to a 
hospital at once (this had already been done by the time 
the learned man finished his disquisition) and that his 
chances for recovery were fair. 

But he was slow in recovering. When I went in to 
see him three days later (the earliest they would let me) 
he was sitting up in bed — playing with blocks. He re- 
ceived me with a vacant stare and waved one hand 
eagerly toward a block which was just beyond his reach. 
. . . The doctor said that he was suffering from acute 
nervous trouble brought on by alcoholism. And though 
this verdict docs a bitter injustice to my friend, I must 
needs let it stand until he recovers to clear himself. For 
I would not dare to have anyone else try the machine, 
set as he left it to some pitch that reveals horrors so 
great as to drive my friend out of his mind. And until 
the memory of those horrors unlocks its grip from 
Jimmy’s brain, no one can tell how to set the pineal 
stimulator to a point where it will be less dangerous. 

. . . But my grandfather did marry a Tennessee girl 
he met just after the battle of Nashville. And the com- 
mander of his brigade was General Cox. 


The End 


What Do You Know? 

R EADERS of Amazing Stories have frequently commented upon the fact that there is more actual knowledge 
to be gained through reading its pages than from many a text-book. Moreover, most of the stories are written 
in a popular vein, making it possible for anyone to grasp important facts. 

The questions which we give below arc all answered on the pages as listed at the end of the questions. Please 
see if you can answer the questions without looking for the answer, and sec how well you check up on your general 
knowledge of science. 


1. What are distinctive dangers in the river waters of 
the South American tropics? (Sec page 690.) 

2. What mineral has been used for a long time for drill- 
ing and cuUing rock? (See page 702.) 

3. What is the heat of a substance due to? (Sec page 
706.) 

4. Is the center of gravity in the.solar system? In the 
center of the sun? (See page 710.) 

5. Why may the planet Venus be without an atmos- 
phere? (See page 710.) 

6. What are the general proportions of the elements on 
earth? (See page 712.) 

7. Does titanium require oxygen to burn? (See page 
716.) 


8. Docs the Mississippi River flow up or down hill? 
(See page 717.) 

9. Whet substance makes the human blood red? What 
metal docs it contain? (See page 719.) 

10. What does radium produce in its decomposition? 
(See page 723.) 

11. What is the probable climate of the planet Venus? 
(See page 725.) 

12. On what does the mass of a body depend and what 
are the measures of energy in the Einstein’s theory? 
(See page 730.) 

13. Has^ light energy and what is its unit? (See page 

14. What is the origin of the decimal system of num- 
bers? (See page 734.) 


M issionaries 



* 1 - . . Much more startling . . . 
was the huge beast-like shape 
that stood in the center of the 
screen as though posing for a 
portrait. 


P ERHAPS once every fifty or a hundred years, 
it is given to some brilliant or favored in- 
dividual to perform some act that will alter 
the destiny of mankind. Sometimes a states- 
man, sometimes a general, sometimes a dex- 
trous worker in words, will have the sudden opportunity 
to shape the future ; sometimes it is a scientist that as- 
sumes control, and in such a case the change is likely to 
be startling indeed. 

Not more than half a dozen scientists in all history 
have found themselves in such a world-shaking role. 
'.One thinks of James Watt; one thinks of Edison; but, 
at the same time, there are some of whom one emphati- 
cally does not think. Among these, I may mention Dr. Ira 
Rand, possibly the least known of scientific geniuses, 
yet in some respects the most remarkable of them all. 

There are not many persons who know of the dis- 
covery made by Rand, and of his phenomenal oppor- 
tunity. There are not many who are aware of the ex- 
traordinary decision which it fell to him to make, and of 
the rare courage with which he submerged his fame and 
fortunes. . . . 


Had Rand chosen otherwise, his name would rank 
beside those of Einstein, Marconi and Curie, among the 
great scientific discoverers of all time. And the earth 
today would be a vastly different place — but possibly a 
place less pleasant to inhabit. 

Now that Rand has made the unalterable step, it is 
only fair that the world should learn of his accomplish- 
ment — and that it should recognize the self-abnegation 
of the man. He himself is likely to remain mute; hence 
I, who served as his right-hand assistant, have taken 
it upon myself to make his story public. 

There are, of course, many who know that Dr. Rand — 


744 



By Stanton A. Coblentz 

Author of “The Sunken IVortd,” "After 12,000 Years,” etc. 


/ T is curious, the one-sided view we generally take about our pet ideas and 
hobbies! IV e casually assume that we are superior in every way. And if 
there are inhabitants on any of the other planets, it hardly seems inconceiv- 
able to us that they also might be suffering from the same malady — a certain 
feeling of superiority. It might be well for us to plan to establish interplane- 
tary communication, which, considering the progress being made now with 
television and long distance radio connections, might happen sooner than 
we expect. Surely it would be safer, as our author so clearly points out, to 
learn what we are up against, while we are still immeasurable distances 
apart. In his well-known manner, Mr. Coblentz gives us once more an un- 
usual short story of scientific and absorbing interest. 


Illustrated by PAUL' 


as manager of the laboratories of one of our great radio 
manufacturers — has given much time to experimenta- 
tion in methods of wireless transmission. His Prismatic 
Bifocal Television Lens, His Magnetic Tonal Purifier, 
His Hetero-Dynamic Radio Amplifier, are only a few 
of the devices by which he has commended himself to 
attention. Yet, original as these contrivances are, few 
persons look upon him as more than a clever technician, 
or suspect the vastly greater achievements of which he 
is capable. 

It was during a period of confusion in the world of 
radio that the great opportunity came to Dr. Rand. 
There are none of us who do not recall how, only two 
or three years ago, owners of radio sets began to com- 
plain of unaccountable disturbances, which in some cases 
became so severe as to preclude normal reception. Not 
all wave lengths were affected ; but there was a certain 
area, between 220 and 235 meters, which was con- 
tinuously subject to attack. The noises, which rarely 
ceased for more than a few minutes at a time, did not 
resemble static, nor any form of electrical interference ; 
it was as if a heavy, husky voice were calling from the 
invisible — a voice that spoke no known language! 

So loud as to drown out all except the most powerful 
stations, the tones throbbed and wavered and vibrated 
with such living accents, that one would have sworn 
that some actual being was speaking. Yet there was 
nothing to support the theory that some unlicensed sta- 
tion was interfering. Not only could no trace of any 
such station be found, but hearers were unanimous in 
testifying that the sounds represented no known tongue. 
Moreover — and this was the most astonishing fact — 
the disturbances were equally prominent in all parts of 


the earth. Radio owners in South Africa and Siam 
joined their brothers in America, Europe and Australia 
in the chorus of complaints; it seemed as if the very 
atmosphere of our planet had been affected and as if 
some new and previously unknown influence were con- 
vulsing the ether. But scientists, even while hesitantly 
advancing this hypothesis, could not reconcile it with 
the fact that the wave-lengths beneath 220 meters and 
above 235 remained untroubled. 

Simultaneous with this manifestation, a strange al- 
though minor annoyance had been observed on television 
screens. Every now and then, inexplicable shadows 
would flash across the receiving apparatus; dancing 
points of light would be seen; wavering forms would 
appear and vanish, or cloudy apparitions present them- 
selves before the eye. Always these images would be 
small — in many cases no larger than a silver dime; 
always they would be blurred and flickering, and would 
speedily disappear; sometimes they would be shapeless 
as drifting mist, sometimes would seem to form fantastic 
patterns; but in no case did they show more stability 
than leaping foam, and in no case could their origin 
be determined. 

There was one fact, in particular, that caused much 
interested speculation. Like the mysterious sounds on 
the radio, the images were world-wide in their occur- 
rence; they were as prominent in Peking as in New 
York, as noticeable in Rio dc Janeiro as in Melbourne 
and London. What hitherto undetected influence was 
agitating the atmosphere of the earth? 

Many were the theories that were advanced and re- 
jected; but, for a long time, no observer traced a con- 
nection between the unknown television lights and 


746 


AMAZING STORIES 


shadows and the enigmatical radio disturbances. It re- 
mained for Dr. Rand to identify the two as manifesta- 
tions of the same phenomenon — and thus to open the 
way for his master achievement. 

In the beginning, Dr. Rand himself did not observe 
the connection. He was interested chiefly in the aberra- 
tions of the television screen — and, from the first, he 
harbored a theory which bears testimony to the intuitive 
powers of genius. The nature of that theory long re- 
mained a mystery even to me, who spent my days in 
close contact with Rand ; but I was not slow in noting 
the eagerness that had come into his eyes, the excited 
haste with which his lean, nervous figure went bustling 
about the laboratory, the enthusiastic ring in his voice 
and the absentmindedness that was overcoming him — 
most of all, the air of world-excluding preoccupation, 
with which he would bury himself for hours on end amid 
a mass of wires, lenses, batteries, electro-magnets, and 
foul-smelling chemicals. 

That he was working at some new invention was 
evident — but how guess the purpose of that invention 
when he persistently refused to answer my questions, 
or else testily advised me to “mind my own business?” 
At times, to be sure, I did secure peeps at the apparatus 
which he was slowly putting together; but the compli- 
cated array of wires, mirrors and vacuum tubes told 
me nothing beyond what I already suspected. With a 
sigh, I was forced to dismiss the matter, and to decide 
that Dr. Rand would let me into the secret only when 
his whim should dictate. 

I T was long before his whim did dictate. Days went 
by, weeks went by, months went by, and in my 
absorption in other matters I had almost come to forget 
Dr. Rand's experiment. When now and then the thought 
of it recurred to me, I would dismiss my doubts with 
a shrug, concluding that probably the invention had 
failed. And since I had been called temporarily to an- 
other part of the laboratory, where I could not watch 
Dr. Rand at work, I had no longer any visible reminder 
of what he was attempting. Hence the eventual an- 
nouncement found me unprepared. 

I still had no inkling of the truth when, greeting me 
one morning with a dancing light in his eyes, he jovially 
invited me to his private laboratory. “I have something 
to show you, Denison,” he said, in suppressed tones 
beneath which I seemed to read a veiled eagerness. 
"Something I want your opinion about.” 

As we started away together, he stroked his bristly 
brown beard thoughtfully, and in his eyes the dancing 
light gave place to one of shrewd anticipation. 

Yet I observed nothing to justify that anticipation 
when we had reached our destination. Before us, at- 
tached to a television receiver, stood a weird-looking de- 
vice reminding me of an enlarged X-ray machine. I 
could see that, within a long central tube, there was a 
series of queerly arranged crystals and lenses ; I could 
see various prisms and mirrors, and I could observe 
that wires, attached to a wall socket, were running 
through the whole. But all this gave me little hint as 
to the nature of the contrivance. 

“You behold here a Micro-Crystalline Televisor,” ex- 
plained Rand, surveying his invention proudly. “The 
first of its kind ever created.” 

“Micro-Crystalline what ?” I gasped. 
“Micro-Crystalline Televisor. It is designed to en- 


Jarge and clarify images beyond the range of the 
Ordinary television receiver.” 

“You mean — it is a receiver of exceptional power?” 

“It is that — and more than that. You see that there 
are two screens.” Here he pointed to two wide strips 
of white cloth, placed at opposite sides of the room. 
“The first receives an image in the manner of an 
ordinary television apparatus. The second takes the 
image reflected from the first, after it has been magnified 
and refined by the lenses, much as the leg of a flea or 
the wing of a gnat will be magnified by a microscope.” 

“What is the principle behind it?” 

Rand smiled, and stroked his beard as if in self- 
congratulation. “Nothing except a fresh application 
of laws already well known. Simply the laws of the 
enlargement and clarification of images by means of 
lenses, and their transmission to a screen. You see it in 
operation daily in the motion picture machine. To be 
sure, in that case the enlargement is made from a film; 
but I have secured the practical equivalent of a film by 
means of careful refraction from mirrors and well placed 
crystals. An image, obtained from the first screen, 
is transmitted to the second, purged of imperfections 
and magnified between ninety and a hundred and fifty 
diameters. Do you wish a demonstration?” 

I nodded. 

“The peculiar dancing lights and shadows on the 
television sefeen were what gave me the idea,” continued 
Rand, as he carefully focused the machine and pressed 
an invisible button. “It was an inspiration — I am elated 
to see my theory confirmed.” 

No sooner had he spoken than he snapped off the 
electric lights and the room was plunged into darkness. 
.There came a queer whirring sound which told me that 
the machine was in operation; there came a sizzling 
scries of blue sparks — but that was all. The screen re- 
mained blank; and, as I watched in bewilderment, it 
seemed to me that Rand’s experiment had failed. 

“You must give it time,” boomed the husky voice 
of the inventor, as though he had read my thoughts. 
"I am not trying for any ordinary television reception. 
I want to show you the mysterious lights and shadows. 
If you will wait a moment, they are certain to appear.” 

Fortunately, my patience was placed under no strain. 
Even as the words left Rand’s lips, a minute, slowly 
moving image leapt up on one of the screens, blurred 
and irregular in outline, and of a mottled gray hue. 
Being of a kind which 1 had frequently seen, it caused 
me no surprise ; but what did surprise me — indeed, what 
startled me so that I gaped like a man gone mad — was 
the reflection that instantly appeared on the second 
and larger screen. 

Even to this day, when all that happened then is an 
old and often repeated story, I find it impossible to 
describe my consternation, my blank and uncomprehend- 
ing amazement. Certainly, this was the weirdest sight 

I had ever seen! Or was it the weirdest? Not less 

unearthly spectacles were to follow, but none that left 
me so dazzled, so stupefied, so altogether nonplussed. 

Across the ten-foot reaches of the screen, there flick- 
ered what I might have taken for a motion picture 
projected by some fabulous and superhuman operator. 
It seemed to me that I was gazing upon a forest, rank 
with a wild and monstrous vegetation; it seemed that 
snake-like slimy tendrils were threshing and swaying 
along the ground like gigantic arms seen in delirium ; it 


MISSIONARIES FROM THE SKY 


747 


seemed that, roofing in these animate and convulsive 
masses of creepers, were huge mushroom-like plants, 
whose columns were thick as a man’s body, and whose 
gracefully curving domes stood edge to edge, as though 
placed in harmony by some master artist. 

B UT these were not what held my attention. Much 
more startling, much more incredible, was the huge 
beast-like shape that burst through the thicket, and stood 
in the center of the screen as though posing for its 
portrait. Was it really beast ? Or was it man ? Surely, 
it seemed as much like the one as like the other! Of 
gigantic stature — it must have been more than eight 
feet in height — it came bounding to view in the manner 
of a kangaroo, leaping with ease and agility upon its 
enormously developed hind legs. Its fore limbs — three 
in number — ended in crab-like tentacles which gave it a 
most repulsive appearance; its coat was of some dark 
hairless substance reminding me of a close-fitting uni- 
form; its chest was extremely broad and capacious, its 
abdominal parts narrow and contracted; while what 
struck me most of all was its huge and unusual head. 

This alone it was that gave the creature its human 
appearance. Pretcrnaturally large in proportion to the 
size of the body, it was a sagacious oblong in shape, and 
seemed more than half forehead. The eyes were mere 
glittering points beneath the hairless brow; the face was 
flat, and a small round opening showed where the nose 
should have been ; the mouth was almost invisible, and 
there was not even the suggestion of a chin. Yet, despite 
its atrociously ugly appearance, the face was ruffled 
with deep lines and furrows that gave the unmistakable 
impression of intelligence. 

For a moment I stared at this outlandish thing with 
the feeling of one who has seen a ghost. Though never 
subject to hallucinations, I was willing to believe that 
this was some delirious vision that would swiftly vanish. 
But the seconds went by, and it did not fade. The fan- 
tastic man — or fantastic beast — continued to gaze at me 
from the screen as if to inquire, “Well, friend, what do 
you think of me?” And I continued to return his glance 
with a sort of stupid speechlcssness. 

It was the murmured words of Rand that restored 
my senses. “What do you say, Denison? What do you 
say now ? How do you like my televisor ? Is it a suc- 
cess, do you think ?” 

“Success?” I blurted out, still unable to collect my 
thought. "I — I don’t quite understand. What — what 
can it mean? Have we both gone mad, Dr. Rand?" 

Heartily the laughter of the inventor rang through 
the room. “Mad?” he echoed, as if relishing some secret 
joke. “Mad? No, I don’t believe so — though you're 
likely to see enough to unbalance any man. You think 
this image extraordinary, do you?” 

Again he laughed, though still for some reason that 
I could not understand. 

"Extraordinary is not the word ! It is unbelievable !” 
"Nothing is unbelievable,” he dogmatized, “when you 
are looking at another planet." 

“Another planet?” 

“You certainly don’t recognize anything on this planet, 
do you?” he went on, suavely. “You are viewing a 
typical scene on Mars.” 

Breathlessly I gaped at him. My heart seemed to stop 
short; the word Mars came to my lips, trembled there, 
and died unuttered. 


Not waiting for me to recover from my amazement, 
Rand fluently continued, “The images on the screen 
only bear out what I suspected long ago. The disturb- 
ances in television could not be explained by any earthly 
influence; therefore I concluded that their source was 
extra-terrestrial. It was in the hope of messages from 
outer space that I experimented with my televisor. For a 
long time, evidently, Mars has been trying to communi- 
cate with us. I have been the first to catch the messages.” 

“How do you know it is Mars?” I demanded. 

Rand smiled as one might smile at a child who has 
asked some preposterous question. "Because the surface 
conditions, as I observe them, correspond with those on 
Mars and on no other known planet. You notice, for 
example, how large the men are, and how easily they 
move about. That is because, the planet being smaller, 
there is less gravitational pull to restrain than ” 

“You might also say that of Mercury — and of the 
moon,” I objected. 

“So you might — but there is other evidence. Suppose, 
however, we do not argue. After you have had a few 
more peeps, we may be better able to talk.” 

A few moments passed in silence. The image of the 
huge, big-headed creature fled from the screen; and in 
its place other images appeared. So startled was I that 
many of them quite eluded me, and I cannot begin to 
enumerate them all. I do recall, however, that I had 
glimpses of sandy plains covered with a scraggy, fun- 
gus-like vegetation; of wide, straight waterways bor- 
dered with gelatinous weeds; of cloudless heavens in 
which shone a sun smaller than ours in appearance, and 
two minute moons; of fields of spiny grasses in which 
six-legged mice-sized creatures leapt with the agility of 
of grasshoppers; of strange octagonal towers, open at 
the top, through which sprang queer man-like beings 
such as -I had already seen ; and of little flying cars, 
scarcely bigger than wheelbarrows, by means of which 
these beings projected themselves high in air, now 
floating gracefully with the motion of a breeze-blown 
leaf, now restlessly circling and spiralling like a gyrating 
fly, now shooting straight upward and descending with 
a rocket-like precision and speed. 

I had no longer any doubts. “Dr. Rand,” said I, tak- 
ing both his hands warmly, while my eyes, I fear, grew 
dim with emotion, “Let me congratulate you 1 You have 
made a miraculous discovery! You have accomplished 
a scientific ” 

Dr. Rand smiled gravely. “Thank you, Denison,” he 
interrupted. “But let us not be premature. Wait till 
you have seen all. I am working at a still more remark- 
able discovery. When that is completed — then, if you 
wish, you may be enthusiastic.” 

Press him as I might, he would not explain what lie 
had in mind. He merely nodded cryptically, and bade 
me be patient ; then abruptly turned aside, and signified 
that the interview was at an end. But the time was not 
far off when I was to learn that he had Keen making 
no idle boast. 

O NLY a few weeks later, he again called me ex- 
citedly into the laboratory. Once more I found 
myself face to face with the "televisor”; once more I 
saw the blue sparks flasliing, and viewed fantastic 
images on the screen. But, on this occasion, there were 
some new instruments present — a microphone and a 
powerful, radio receiver, of the type designed for. long- 


748 


AMAZING STORIES 


distance reception. “Now I want you not only to 
watch carefully, but to listen,” prompted Rand, his 
gray eyes a-glitter with an eager light. “See if you do 
not notice something unusual.” 

So speaking, he switched off the current, and the 
images on the screen vanished. Then carefully he ad- 
justed the radio dial and set the machine into operation ; 
and, at the same time, he renewed his activities with the 
“televisor.” I was interested to hear once more those 
strange noises that had puzzled listeners for months; I 
was interested to note that the “televisor,” operating 
intermittently, exhibited pictures of bare snow-plains, of 
hills covered with weird castle-like houses, and of strange 
octopus-like animals that sidled across the land like 
living nightmares. But at first I did not observe the 
vital fact 

“Well, you see?” inquired Rand, expectantly, after I 
had followed the exhibition for a moment. 

“I see many queer sights ” I started to confess. 

But the wry expression on his face cut me short; I 
knew that I had been guilty of a stupid reply. 

Hence I continued to watch and listen — soon a strik- 
ing discovery flashed upon me. The peculiar noises on 
the radio occurred simultaneously with the images on 
the screen ! When the one ceased, the other ceased ; 
when the one was resumed, the other was resumed ! Not 
once, but a dozen times, this occurred ; the appearance 
and cessation of the two synchronized absolutely ! Mere 
chance could not be the explanation ; no series of coinci- 
dences could work out so perfectly ; the relationship be- 
tween the radio and the television pictures was demon- 
strated beyond question ! 

But what did that relationship imply? So I inquired 
of Rand, as I turned to him with bewildered exclama- 
tions. "Did the radio noises also issue from Mars?” 

“Yes, the noises do issue from Mars,” he declared, in 
matter-of-fact tones, but with a twinkle of undisguised 
enthusiasm. “They too represent part of the attempt 
to communicate with us. Both by sight and by sound, 
the Martians wish to impress us.” 

"But how — how did you find it out?” I demanded. 

“Merely by accident. One day I happened to have 
the televisor and the radio in operation at once — and I 
would have had to be blind and deaf not to notice the 
connection. What astonishes me is that no one has dis- 
covered it before.” 

“Perhaps others have discovered it," I suggested. 
“After all, what good would it do them?” 

“What good would it do ?” He flung back my words 
with an angry vehemence; for a second he stood regard- 
ing me in surprise and indignation. “What good would 
it do, my dear man ? Do you mean to tell me you don’t 
see? Why, it is the Rosetta Stone of science! It is the 
key to the most baffling of enigmas! It holds the secret 
of world-to-world communication 1” 

Blankly I stood regarding the inventor. “To enter into 
world-to-world communication. Dr. Rand,” I protested, 
mildly, “one must not only receive messages, but send 
them ” 

"And who says I can’t send them ?” he flung back, not 
waiting for me to finish. “For heaven's sake, Denison, 
what do you think I’ve been working at all these weeks ? 
After all, the problem is not so difficult. Knowing that 
the Martians have a powerful transmitting apparatus, 
it is reasonable to conclude that they have equally 
powerful receivers. Given sufficient electrical energy, 


it has long been possible to send messages anywhere on 
earth ; given sufficient increase of power, there is no 
barrier to flashing our words through the ether even 
across a distance of many light-years, since the ether, 
being a conductor of heat and light, would also convey 
the Hertzian waves ” 

“You mean, then, you have succeeded in connecting 
with Mars ?” I cut him short. 

“Exactly. Remember this : at its closest approach to 
the earth, that planet is but thirty-five or forty million 
miles away, and even at its farthest is separated from us 
by little more than two hundred million miles — a mere 
stone’s throw, as astronomical distances go. Now, con- 
sidering the sensitiveness of the Martian instruments, 
a power of one thousand kilowatts, which I have applied 
to the radio and television transmitters ” 

“Is sufficient to enable you to say 'How-do-you-do ?’ to 
the Martians?” I finished for him. 

“More than sufficient. I have already exchanged a 
few elementary ideas with them — and have found the 
results quite edifying.” 

"Doubtless,” I commented, not quite certain whether 
Rand were serious or were but trying to test my cre- 
dulity. “Of course, you understand the Martian lan- 
guage by intuition ” 

“No, but I am taking a course of instruction.” 

This statement Rand made in the simple and unpre- 
tentious manner of one who announces that he is study- 
ing French or Spanish. 

“By this time, I am an advanced student,” he con- 
tinued, while I smiled skeptically. “When the Martians 
intercepted the first television images I sent them, and 
so found that I had caught their messages, they were 
eager to give me lessons. It is not really difficult. Want 
to see how it is done?” 

“Seeing is believing," said I. 

Immediately Rand turned to the microphone, and bel- 
lowed out a long and unintelligible drivel. While I was 
wondering if excessive experimentation were not driving 
him mad, he took out his watch, carefully noted the time, 
and remarked, "It will be a little more than eleven 
minutes before we can get our reply, for Mars at present 
is more than sixty million miles away, and the ether 
waves, making the round trip at the rate of one hundred 
and eighty-six thousand miles a second ” 

“Yes, I understand,” I interposed. “No doubt I can 
wait the eleven minutes.” 

None the less, I had never thought that time could 
pass so slowly. Conversation lagged ; Rand and I alike 
did nothing but consult our watches ; and the watches, 
as if ruled by some tantalizing demon, persisted in 
crawling at a worm-like pace. What was I to see when 
the time had expired? Frankly, I expected nothing at 
all ; yet, as the minutes dragged past, I could not check 
an eagerness which was gradually taking possession of 
me. 

A T last the specified period had elapsed. “Time!” 

announced Rand, snapping the watch back into his 
pocket. And, as promptly as though regulated by clock- 
work, the demonstration commenced. 

It was really nothing very spectacular, yet it was as 
extraordinary a thing as could be imagined. On the 
screen before me there appeared one of the big-headed, 
five-limbed creatures that I knew to be a Martian man ; 
and behind him was the same moving, snake-like foliage 


MISSIONARIES FROM THE SKY 


749 


that I had already seen. Simultaneously, slow and dis- 
tinct sounds, like human speech, began to issue from the 
radio; and I saw that those sounds harmonized with 
the motions of the man, and that he was acting as would 
an instructor addressing a class. First he would bend 
down and tap his knee, while over the radio the word 
“Molab!” would come to us clearly; then he would 
touch his thigh, and we would hear, “Darg! Dargl”; 
then he would indicate his breast, and “Habot ! Habot !” 
would burst upon our ears; then he would refer to 
various other parts of his anatomy and to the features 
of his surroundings, proceeding always with a care and 
deliberation that made his intentions obvious. 

“Better take down the words, Denison,’’ advised Dr. 
Rand. "This is all for your especial benefit. I notified 
him that a newcomer would be here. Personally, of 
course, I am already far beyond this stage. I have a 
vocabulary of more than two thousand Martian words — 
which, moreover, I can combine into sentences. Be- 
sides, I am teaching the Martians English.” 

While this announcement left me stricken speechless, 
and while the demonstration on the screen still con- 
tinued, Rand delved into a drawer, and drew forth a 
note-book lettered with crazy-looking hieroglyphics. “I 
have the Martian words noted down here," he informed 
me. “Also, I have a record of everything the Martians 
have said to me, and of all that I have said to them. 
Already I have gathered information enough to take the 
world by storm.” 

“God in heaven! Why not do so?” I exclaimed. 

“I shall. I surely shall — in time. But I do not want 
to be premature. When I have my story complete, the 
effect will be much more shattering. Meanwhile, would 
you like me to read you some of the results?" 

To this question, of course, there could be but one 
answer. After Rand had switched off the “televisor” 
and the radio, I sat down to listen to his reports. 

“The Martians appear to be a curious people," he as- 
sured me, by way of preliminary. "They do not seem 
to look at things as we do. Of course, there are gaps 
in my knowledge of their speech, which I have had to fill 
in by guesswork. But here is what they seem to think 
of us.” 

And slowly he read, “Our earthly brothers, inhabi- 
tants of a younger and weaker world, it is with great joy 
that we greet you across space. For thousands of years 
we have known that your planet was populated, but we 
have long debated whether it was populated by intelli- 
gent beings. The accepted opinion was in the negative ; 
none the less, from time to time throughout the ages 
we have attempted to send you messages. But they were 
never acknowledged until now, leading us to conclude 
that you knew nothing even of so primitive a device 
as wireless. To the argument that this proved you mere 
crawling beasts there was apparently no answer. Of 
course, it was argued that you were but an infant race, 
having at most a few hundred thousand or a few million 
years behind you ; our ancestors were turning out works 
of wisdom, when yours were fishes squirming in the 
salt waves. Even so, we were disappointed at your 
lack of progress. But now that we have learned that 
you are on the threshold of civilization, we are delighted 
to exchange ideas with you, and to offer that aid to be 
expected of elder brothers.” 

Rand paused, and looked at me with a quizzical smile. 
'“Rather interesting, don’t you think?” he inquired. 


“Rather presumptuous, I should say. The Martians 
seem to look down on us from an almighty distance. 
But how did you succeed in getting so complete a 
message ?” 

The inventor regarded me thoughtfully, and slowly 
replied, “Interspersed with the Martian, there were 
some English words, which our friends up there were 
remarkably quick about picking up. For the rest, facial 
expressions, gestures, charts and pictures aided me to 
understand. Of course, it has taken months of prepara- 
tion. ... Do you want to hear more ?” 

I grunted in the affirmative. 

Rand turned the pages of the note-book with a' 
doubtful expression. “Now here is something curious," 
he stated at length. “A while back, I sent them a tele- 
vision image of myself, but did not mention who or what 
it was. Their response is refreshing. Just observe 
what they think of me.” 

“Our earthly brothers, we were amazed at the 
picture of the strange two-legged animal. How un- 
speakably uglyl Is it a domestic beast? It looks harm- 
less but stupid. What is the peculiar pointed swelling 
in the middle of the face just below the eyes? And 
what the mat of hair at the bottom of the face? Even 
our domestic animals have had no hair for thirty mil- 
lion years. A committee of scientists, called in to ob- 
serve the exhibit, believe that it represents some primeval 
form which should have been wiped out ages ago ” 

Rand ended in mid-sentence; my laughter cut him 
short. “Perhaps the remarks are justified 1” he declared, 
joining me in hearty merriment. “Well, these are the 
least ludicrous reports I could read you. You had better 
wait a while before hearing any more. I am about to 
send the Martians an account of our ways of living, 
accompanied, when possible, by television pictures." 

My curiosity being whetted, I attempted to coax 
further information from Rand. I urged him to read 
me more of the Martian communications; I pleaded 
with him to give the results of his inquiries immediately 
to the world ; I entreated him to take me deeper into his 
confidence, so that we might conduct immediate in- 
quiries in partnership. But to all my appeals he turned 
a deaf ear. Never had I met a man more doggedly bent 
on following his own way 1 Not only did he pledge me 
to secrecy, but he was determined to reveal nothing 
more to me for the present, and to keep his results from 
the world until his findings were complete. And I, while 
feeling unbounded admiration for the genius of the 
man, was disturbed in unaccountable ways by his secre- 
tiveness, as though I had some indefinable intimation of 
evil to come. . . . 

F ROM time to time, during the weeks that followed, 
I attempted to wrest from Rand some word as to 
the progress of his experiments. But though I en- 
countered him daily, there was little information I could 
obtain. He would answer my inquiries by asserting that 
everything was “going splendidly” or that he had just 
“received a new message,” but he would not enter into 
details; and all the while he was obviously preoccupied, 
and was changing in ways that; alarmed his other associ- 
ates no less than myself. Habitually he was coming to 
wear a far-away, abstracted expression, as of one who 
dwells in some other universe ; he was growing absent- 
minded, and would be as likely as not to forget whether 
or not he had adjusted his cravat or eaten his breakfast; 


(750 


AMAZING STORIES 


he would pass us sometimes without a nod, not because 
he wished to be rude, but because he actually failed to 
see us; he was becoming emaciated and thin, and his 
eyes were aglow with a frenzied, almost fanatical fire, 
while now and then he was heard muttering to himself, 
as if in secret ecstasy or dread. 

It was three months before he again called me into 
his laboratory, and signified that he had a revelation to 
make. His face on this occasion looked strained and 
worn, as in the case of one who has endured some in- 
tolerable worry; his cheeks were almost cadaverous in 
their pallor, but in his eyes there was the brilliant flame 
that had been there so often of late. “Well, Denison,” 
he exclaimed, as he sank wearily into a chair beside the 
"televisor,” “I don’t know how much longer I can keep 
going. My researches have been eating away at me like 
a disease. It is time that I take someone into my confi- 
dence. The burden is too much for me to bear alone." 

"What burden?” I demanded. 

He looked at me wistfully, and shook his head slowly, 
as if but half decided on his course. "I do not know, 
Denison,” he ruminated, “if it is fair to make you share 
the responsibility. The weight of the whole world rests 
upon my head. I have it in my power, if I will, to 
change the course of history.” 

Wonderingly I stared at him. Was not the explana- 
tion that the man had gone mad ? 

“Queer things have happened since I spoke to you 
before,” he stated. "I have received startling messages. 
A momentous decision lies in my hands. A final message, 
which I expect this afternoon, may determine my 
choice.” 

“You speak in enigmas,” said I. 

“Events make me speak in enigmas. But the greatest 
enigma is that which lies unsolved before me. Oh, God, 
that I may have the wisdom to decide rightly !” 

Abruptly he arose, and, clenching his fists, went pac- 
ing about the room in the manner of one distracted. 

But after a moment, he resumed his seat. Becoming 
more settled he confided, “The messages I have received 
of late, Denison, place me in a fearful dilemma. You 
must not mind my actions ; they are merely my efforts 
to retain a grip on my sanity, Sometimes I wonder 
whether I have not been dreaming. . . . Let me read you 
some recent messages.” 

He fumbled for his note-book, which displayed scores 
upon scores of pages packed with hieroglyphics. Mo- 
mentarily he hesitated ; then mumbled, “Here is some- 
thing typical,” and began to read : 

“Our earthly brothers, we cannot decide whether 
what you tell us is serious or in jest. But it must be in 
jest. You say that your world is divided into many na- 
tions — have you not learned to uproot narrowness? 
|You say that, within those nations, some persons have 
wealth to squander while others starve — can it be that 
justice is unknown in your land? Worst of all, you 
declare that the nations permit wars in which hundreds 
of thousands or even millions of citizens are slaughtered 
—is it then that your planet is a madhouse? No, our 
earthly brothers, we will not believe so. You must be 
jesting. On our world, no nations have existed since 
our emergence from barbarism tens of millions of years 
ago. In all that time no Martian, except an occasional 
victim of mental disease, has lifted his arm against an- 
other Martian. It must be so with you too, our earthly 
brothers, for are you not also civilized ?” 


Rand paused, and looked up with a grim smile. 
"That is only one message out of many,” he declared. 

"Well, what of it?” said I. "The Martian views may 
be a little peculiar, but that is no reason to let your hair 
turn gray.” 

“Not in the least. But you do not understand,” he 
continued, while his thin fingers nervously toyed with 
his untrimmed beard. "We have created a consternation 
on Mars. When the people there found that I was not 
jesting, but that we really do have nations and warfare, 
they expressed their pity' and dismay. They concluded 
that we were savages in need of intelligent guidance, 
and started a movement to remake the earth. They 
have the spirit of the true reformer, I believe, for they 
want to model our world on the plan of theirs." 

“Well why not let them try?” I suggested with the 
attempt at a laugh. “At their distance, they are not 
likely to prove dangerous !” 

"Yes, but they can overcome the distance!” 

S UDDENLY Rand’s manner became alert, decisive, 
fiery, and it was with a startling energy that he 
proceeded. “They can overcome the distance! They 
are a million years in advance of us scientifically ! They 
can cross the void to the earth ! They have actually 
flown through space to certain of the asteroids, millions 
of miles away ! If we will let them, they will come to 
the earth ! It is all for me to decide, for me to decide 1” 
Filled with the vehemence of this announcement, Rand 
again shot to his feet. His whole frame was quivering; 
his movements were abrupt and violent as he once more 
began to pace the floor. 

"Calm yourself, Dr. Rand.” I urged, springing to his 
side and taking his arm. “Calm yourself. Tell me, just 
what is for you to decide?” 

“For me to decide whether the Martians will come 
here!" he burst forth, flinging himself free of my arm. 
"For me to decide whether they will come as mission- 
aries ! Whether they will give us their ways of thought, 
of living, their civilization. The Martians want to con- 
vert the earth ! It is all, all for me to decide 1” 
Disregarding my entreaties, he continued to storm 
back and forth like a man out of his wits. 

At first, of course, I did not take him seriously. In 
spite of the earnest, glittering fire in his eyes, the ob- 
vious explanation was that the poor man had taken leave 
of his senses. Hence I did my best to humor him, to 
console him, and to pretend to give credence to his erratic 
notions. 

"The fact is,” he went on to explain, when finally he 
had been somewhat sobered, “that the Martians would 
completely transform life here. Being in command of 
unlimited mechanical power, they would control us as 
we control the cattle of the fields. They would take up 
the reins of government in all lands ; they would make 
the laws; they would batter down social distinctions; 
they would re-distribute wealth, level away inequalities, 
prohibit warfare, and abolish national differences.” 

“In other words,” said I, still not taking Rand se- 
riously, “they would convert our world into a Utopia !” 

“Yes, but into a Utopia without freedom. We would 
no longer fight, cheat, bicker, and destroy — but we 
could no longer go our own way ! We would have to act 
as the Martians saw fit! Would we be better off? 
Would we be better off ? I keep asking myself. Would 
the gain equal the loss ?” 


MISSIONARIES FROM THE SKY 


751 


"My dear Dr. Rand," I protested, observing how the 
inventor, frenziediy raking his hair, was still pacing the 
floor, “I feel sure that you exaggerate. How can the 
Martians do all these things? Certainly, you are making 
a mountain out of an anthill !’’ 

Rand turned to me with contempt staring plainly 
from his eyes. “It is evident that you do not under- 
stand,” he exclaimed. “Well, then, perhaps you will see 
for yourself ! The time has come for more television 
messages ! Your own eyes will inform you !’’ 

Hastily he turned to the "televisor,” and after a 
moment the sputtering blue sparks began to appear, and 
images flashed once more upon the screen. Multitudes 
of the huge, five-limbed Martians darted before us, 
their noseless faces hideous as goblins. Some were 
clothing themselves in queer balloon-like suits ten times 
their own size; others were wielding long syringe-like 
tubes from which foggy vapors issued in spurts; still 
others were flying through the air in their odd little 
cars, or else springing along the ground in frog-like 
leaps. Truly, they made an impressive, a frightening 
assemblage ; they struck me as things horrible, inimical ; 
I was alarmed, though I knew that they were sixty 
million miles away; I shuddered as at the vision of a 
ravaging army. 

“Sec them getting ready to invade the earth!" ex- 
claimed Rand, in wild eagerness. “Those balloon-like 
devices are vacuum garments with which they may 
counteract the Martian gravitation and reach the earth. 
Look how they are all ready to set out ! Notice those 
syringe-like machines! They will discharge gases to 
paralyze our will-power and make us unable to resist! 
The expedition is all ready ! TIjc missionaries will come, 
will come — if only I give the word !” 

“Why must you give the word?” I gasped. But just 
at that moment the radio, bursting into action, uttered 
a deep-pitched series of Martian phrases. And Rand 
turned to his note-book, and began to scribble with 
frantic haste. 

Even as he took down the words, he translated them 
in excited tones for my benefit. 

“Our earthly brothers, the expedition is ready! We 
will go to you in your need, and elevate you to Martian 
standards ! We will wipe out all earth-made laws, and 
replace them by Martian codes ; we will rule you for your 
own good. At last, our earthly brothers, you will rise 
above the barbarism that has engulfed you ! 

“But before we can come to your aid, we need some 
assistance from you. We must know the exact chemical 
composition and density of your atmosphere, so that we 
may adjust ourselves to it; we must be directed to some 
flat and open stretch of land, so that we may not fall 
into the sea or be lost among the high mountains. Tell 
us these things, O, our earthly friends, and twenty 
thousand missionaries shall set out this very day !” 

T HE message stopped short. Rand, flinging down 
his pencil, sat mopping his hair in the manner of one 
gone mad. “Shall I tell them?” he kept repeating. 
“Shall I tell them? The temptation is so strong! They 
will come here, and will create a different world ! There 
will be no more wars 1 No more social inequality ! All 
will have plenty, all will tolerate their neighbors ! But 


we will no longer be free. then! Oh, shall I tell them?” 

“Calm yourself, Dr. Rand!” I cried for the twentieth 
time, coming over to him and taking his arm. “Calm 
yourself! There is no reason for such agitation " 

Suddenly he seemed to get beyond control. “There is 
reason !” he shouted, leaping to his feet. “There is more 
than reason! I — I cannot take the chance! Let me — 
let me put the temptation away ! Let me put it beyond 
me!" 

As he uttered these words, he seized his note-book, 
and violently ripped it from cover to cover ; then, with 
maniacal fury, tore it into scraps, and set a match to the 
ruins. 

"Dr. Rand! Dr. Rand!” I yelled, darting forward 
and striving to deter him. “Dr. Rand, what are you 
doing? All your notes! All the messages from Mars! 
All ” 

He did not seem to hear me. Like one filled with 
a lust of destruction, he was bent upon a still more dis- 
astrous work. Seizing a heavy steel rod from the 
laboratory table, he rushed like a madman toward the 
“televisor,” and began to deal blow after heavy blow 
upon the delicate apparatus. Crash followed crash in 
bewildering succession ; shattered glass and twisted steel 
fell in a rain of ruins to the floor; while I, standing 
helplessly by, cried out in horror and dismay, “Dr. 
Rand! Dr. Rand! Your invention! Your great in- 
vention ! You are wrecking your invention 1 Stop, stop, 
Dr. Rand! Stop! Stop!" 

But he would not stop. Still, with insensate frenzy, 
he beat and beat at the ruins, until soon nothing re- 
mained hut a mass of splintered lenses and battered 
tubes and wires. 

Then, all at once, every atom of energy seemed to 
leave his body. He sank wearily into a seat; the dis- 
tracted look on his face gave way to one of utter listless- 
ness ; he sighed, and his voice was blank with despair as 
he moaned. “It is done, done, done! I had to do it! 
My invention— ruined, ruined! It will never be given 
to the world ! I had to do it ! The Martians would 
have come and ruled us ! Who was I to let the world be 
overturned? Better to destroy my invention! We will 
never speak again with the Martians ! Never ! Never !” 

For a long while Rand sat moping by himself, utter- 
ing hardly a word, scarcely seeming to hear my distressed 
inquiries. But when at length he did arise, it was with a 
new calmness in his eyes, despite the pallor of his cheeks. 
His lips were firmly compressed ; he bore the look of one 
who has safely mastered a storm; I could see that my 
fears for his sanity had been needless. 

“Denison," he said, putting his hand gently on my 
shoulder, “let us forget what has happened. It had to 
be — I feel that we have avoided a great danger. . . . 
What do you say to dining at the club tonight?” 

As J. accepted the invitation, and as, with shaking 
fingers, I took the cigarette he offered me, I had the 
feeling that he had performed a greater deed in destroy- 
ing his invention than in creating it. Yet that mass of 
torn metal and broken glass, lying twisted and ghastly 
upon the floor, seemed to stare at me like a silent re- 
proach, and I groaned inwardly to think that Rand's 
prodigious achievement should have perished before the 
world had had a chance to marvel and applaud. 


The End. 


The Cosmic Express 

By Jack Williamson 

Author of “ The Green Girl ” " The Metal Man," etc. 


M R. ERIC STOKES-HARDING tumbled 
out of the rumpled bed-clothing, a striking 
slender figure in purple-striped pajamas. 
He smiled fondly across to the other of the 
twin beds, where Nada, his pretty bride, 
lay quiet beneath light silk covers. With a groan, he 
stood up and began a series of fantastic bending exer- 
cises. But after a few half-hearted movements, he gave 
it up, and walked through an open door into a small 
bright room, its walls covered with book-cases and also 
with scientific appliances that would have been strange 
to the man of four or five centuries before, when the 
Age of Aviation was but beginning. 

Yawning, Mr. Eric Stokes-Harding stood before the 
great open window, staring out. Below him v/as a wide, 
park-like space, green with emerald lawns, and bright 
with flowering plants. Two hundred yards across it 
rose an immense pyramidal building — an artistic struc- 
ture, gleaming with white marble and bright metal, 
striped with the verdure of terraced roof-gardens, its 
slender peak rising to help support the gray, steel-ribbed 
glass roof above. Beyond, the park stretched away in 
illimitable vistas, broken with the graceful columned 
buildings that held up the great glass roof. 

Above the glass, over this New York of 2432 A. D., 
a freezing blizzard was sweeping. But small concern 
was that to the lightly clad man at the window, who was 
inhaling deeply the fragrant air from the plants below — 
air kept, winter and summer, exactly at 20° C. 

With another yawn, Mr. Eric Stokes-Harding turned 
back to the room, which was bright with the rich golden 
light that poured in from the suspended globes of the 
cold ato-light that illuminated the snow-covered city. 
With a distasteful grimace, he seated himself before a 
broad, paper-littered desk, sat a few minutes leaning 
back, with his hands clasped behind his head. At last 
he straightened reluctantly, slid a small typewriter out 
of its drawer, and began pecking at it impatiently. 

For Mr. Eric Stokes-Harding was an author. There 
wa6 a whole shelf of his books on the wall, in bright 
jackets, red and blue and green, that brought a thrill of 
pleasure to the young novelist’s heart when he looked 
up from his clattering. machine. 

He wrote “thrilling action romances,” as his enthusi- 
astic publishers and television directors said, “of ages 
past, when men were men. Red-blooded heroes respond- 
ing vigorously to the stirring passions of primordial 
life 1” 

He was impartial as to the source of his thrills — 
provided they were distant enough from modern civiliza- 
tion. His hero was likely to be an ape-man roaring 
through the jungle, with a bloody rock in one hand and a 


beautiful girl in the other. Or a cowboy, "hard-riding, 
hard-shooting,” the vanishing hero of the ancient ranches 
Or a man marooned with a lovely woman on a desert 
South Sea island. His heroes were invariably strong, 
fearless, resourceful fellows, who could handle a club 
on equal terms with a cave-man, or call science to aid 
them in defending a beautiful mate from the terrors 
of a desolate wilderness. 

And a hundred million read Eric’s novels, and watched 
the dramatization of them on the television screens. They 
thrilled at the simple, romantic lives his heroes led, paid 
him handsome royalties, and subconsciously shared his 
opinion that civilization had taken all the best from the 
life of man. 

Eric had settled down to the artistic satisfaction of 
describing the sensuous delight of his hero in the roasted 
marrow-bones of a dead mammoth, when the pretty 
woman in the other room stirred, and presently came 
tripping into the study, gay and vivacious, and — as her 
husband of a few months most justly thought — alto- 
gether beautiful in a bright silk dressing gown. 

Recklessly, he slammed the machine back into its place, 
and resolved to forget that his next “red-blooded action 
thriller’’ was due in the publisher’s office at the end of the 
month. He sprang up to kiss his wife, held her em- 
braced for a long happy moment. And then they went 
hand in hand, to the side of the room and punched a 
series of buttons on a panel — a simple way of ordering 
breakfast sent up the automatic shaft from the kitchens 
below. 

Nada Stokes-Harding was also an author. She wrote 
poems — “back to nature stuff” — simple lyrics of the 
sea, of sunsets, of bird songs, of bright flowers and 
warm winds, of thrilling communion with Nature, and 
growing things. Men read her poems and called her a 
genius. Even though the whole world had grown up 
into a city, the birds were extinct, there were no wild 
flowers, and no one had time to bother about sunsets. 

“Eric, darling,” she said, “isn’t it terrible to be cooped 
up here in this little flat, away from the things we both 
love ?” 

“Yes, dear. Civilization has ruined the world. If 
we could only have lived a thousand years ago, when 
life was simple and natural, when men hunted and killed 
their meat, instead of drinking synthetic stuff, when men 
still had the joys of conflict, instead of living under 
glass, like hot-house flowers.” 

“If we could only go somewhere ” 

“There isn’t anywhere to go. I write about the West, 
Africa, South Sea islands. But they were all filled up 
two hundred years ago. Pleasure resorts, sanatoriums, 
cities, factories.” 


752 



"If only we lived on Venus! I was listen- 
ing to a lecture on the television, last night. 
The speaker said that the Planet Venus is 
younger than the Earth, that it has not cooled 
so much. It has a thick, cloudy atmosphere, 
and low, rainy forests. There’s simple, ele- 
mental life there— like Earth had before 
civilization ruined it.” 

"Yes, Kingsley, with his new infra-red ray 


C Suddenly there was a sharp tingling sensation where 
they touched the polished surface. 


T YUM AN nature is unchanging and will 
1. -Z probably not change fundamentally for 
countless ages in the future. We look back 
now to the days before the automobile and 
before electricity and the hundred and one 
other mechanical conveniences that sim- 
plify life in so many ways. Just so people 
of the future will in all likelihood look 
back on pre-television and pre-flying days 
and wish themselves back in the exciting 
days of primitive life. Our well-known 
author gives us here a thought-provoking 
bit of literature of scientific interest. 


Illustrated by MOREY 



754 


AMAZING STORIES 


telescope, that penetrates the cloud layers of the planet, 
proved that Venus rotates in about the same period as 
Earth ; and it must be much like Earth was a million 
years ago." 

“Eric, I wonder if we could go there 1 It would be 
so thrilling to begin life like the characters in your 
stories, to get away from this hateful civilization, and 
live natural lives. Maybe a rocket ” 

The young author's eyes were glowing. He skipped 
across the floor, seized Nada, kissed her ecstatically. 
“Splendid 1 Think of hunting in the virgin forest, and 
bringing the game home to you ! But I’m afraid there is 
no way. — Wait! The Cosmic Express 1" 

“The Cosmic Express?" 

“A new invention. Just perfected a few weeks ago, 
I understand. By Ludwig Von der Vails, the German 
physicist.” 

“I’ve quit bothering about science. It has ruined na- 
ture, filled the world with silly, artificial people, doing 
silly, artificial things.” 

“But this is qpite remarkable, dear. A new way to 
travel — by ether 1" 

“By ether!" 

“Yes. You know of course that energy and matter 
are interchangeable terms; both are simply etheric vi- 
bration, of different sorts.” 

"Of course. That’s elementary.” She smiled proudly. 
"I can give you examples, even of the change. The dis- 
integration of the radium atom, making helium and lead 
and energy. And Millikan’s old proof that his Cosmic 
Ray is generated when particles of electricity are united 
to form an atom.” 

“Fine! I thought you said you weren’t a scientist." 
He glowed with pride. “But the method, in the new 
Cosmic Express, is simply to convert the matter to be 
carried into power, send it out as a radiant beam and 
focus the beam to convert it back into atoms at the 
destination.” 

“But the amount of energy must be terrific ” 

“It is. You know short waves carry more energy than 
long ones. The Express Ray is an electromagnetic vi- 
bration of frequency far higher than that of even the 
Cosmic ray, and correspondingly more powerful and 
more penetrating." 

The girl frowned, running slim fingers through golden- 
brown hair. “But I don’t see how they get any recog- 
nizable object, not even how they get the radiation 
turned back into matter.” 

“The beam is focused, just like the light that passes 
through a camera lens. The photographic lens, using 
light rays, picks up a picture and reproduces it again on 
the plate — just the same as the Express Ray picks up 
an object and sets it down on the other side of the 
world. 

“An analogy from television might help. You know 
that by means of the scanning disc, the picture is trans- 
formed into mere rapid fluctuations in the brightness 
of a beam of light. In a parallel manner, the focal plane 
of the Express Ray moves slowly through the object, 
progressively, dissolving layers of the thickness of a 
single atom, which are accurately reproduced at the 
other focus of the instrument — which might be in 
Venus 1 

“But the analogy of the lens is the better of the two. 
For no receiving instrument is required, as in television. 
The object is built up of an infinite series of plane layers, 


at the focus of the ray, no matter where that may be. 
Such a thing would be impossible with radio apparatus, 
because even with the best beam transmission, all but 
a tiny fraction of the power is lost, and power is re- 
quired to rebuild the atoms. Do you understand, dear?” 

“Not altogether. But I should worry! Here comes 
breakfast. Let me butter your toast." 

A bell had rung at the shaft. She ran to it, and re- 
turned with a great silver tray, laden with dainty dishes, 
which she set on a little side table. They sat down op- 
posite each other, and ate, getting as much satisfaction 
from contemplation of each other’s faces as from the 
excellent food. When they had finished, she carried the 
tray to the shaft, slid it in a slot, and touched a button — 
thus disposing of the culinary cares of the morning. 

She ran back to Eric, who was once more staring 
distastefully at his typewriter. 

"Oh, darling! I’m thrilled to death about the Cosmic 
Express! If we could go to Venus, to a new life on a 
new world, and get away from all this hateful conven- 
tional society ” 

"We can go to their office — it’s only five minutes. The 
chap that operates the machine for the company is a pal 
of mine. He's not supposed to take passengers except 
between the offices they have scattered about the world. 
But I know his weak point ” 

Eric laughed, fumbled with a hidden spring under 
his desk. A small polished object, gleaming silvery, slid 
down into his hand. 

“Old friendship, plus this, would make him— like 
spinach.” 

F IVE minutes later Mr. Eric Stokes-Harding and his 
pretty wife were in street clothes, light silk tunics 
of loose, flowing lines — little clothing being required in 
the artificially warmed city. They entered an elevator 
and dropped thirty stories to the ground floor of the 
great building. 

There they entered a cylindrical car, with rows of 
seats down the sides. Not greatly different from an 
ancient subway car, except that it was air-tight, and was 
hurled by magnetic attraction and repulsion through a 
tube exhausted of air, at a speed that would have made 
an old subway rider gasp with amazement. 

In five more minutes their car had whipped up to the 
base of another building, in the business section, where 
there was no room for parks between the mighty struc- 
tures that held the unbroken glass roofs two hundred 
stories above the concrete pavement. 

An elevator brought them up a hundred and fifty 
stories. Eric led Nada down a long, carpeted corridor 
to a wide glass door, which bore the words : 

COSMIC EXPRESS 
stenciled in gold capitals across it. 

As they approached, a lean man, carrying a black bag, 
darted out of an elevator shaft opposite the door, ran 
across the corridor, and entered. They pushed in after 
him. 

They were in a little room, cut in two by a high brass 
grill. In front of it was a long bench against the wall, 
that reminded one of the waiting room in an old railroad 
depot. In the grill was a little window, with a lazy, 
brown-eyed youth leaning on the shelf behind it. Be- 
yond him was a great, glittering piece of mechanism, half 
hidden by the brass. A little door gave access to the ma- 
chine from the space before the grill. 


THE COSMIC EXPRESS 


755 


The thin man in black, whom Eric now recognized as 
a prominent French heart-specialist, was dancing before 
the window, waving his bag frantically, raving at the 
sleepy boy. 

“Queek ! I have tell you zee truth ! I have zee most 
urgent necessity to go queekly. A patient I have in 
Paree, zat ees in zee most creetical condition !” 

“Hold your horses just a minute, Mister. We got a 
client in the machine now. Russian diplomat from Mos- 
cow to Rio de Janeiro. ... Two hundred seventy dol- 
lars and eighty cents, please. . . . Your turn next. Keep 
cool, you’ll be there before you know it. Remember this 
is just an experimental service. Regular installations 
all over the world in a year. . . . Ready now. Come 
on in." 

The youth took the money, pressed a button. The 
door sprang open in the grill, and the frantic physician 
leaped through it. 

“Lie down on the crystal, face up,” the young man 
ordered. “Hands at your sides, don’t breathe. Ready !’’ 

He manipulated his dials and switches, and pressed 
another button. 

“Why, hello, Eric, old man !” he cried. “That’s the 
lady you were telling me about? Congratulations!” A 
bell jangled before him on the panel. "Just a minute. 
I've got a call.” 

He punched the board again. Little bulbs lit and 
glowed for a second. The youth turned toward the 
half-hidden machine, spoke courteously. 

“All right, madam. Walk out. Hope you found the 
transit pleasant.” 

"But my Violet ! My precious Violet!” a shrill female 
.voice came from the machine. “Sir, what have you done 
.with my darling Violet?” 

“I’m sure I don’t know, madam. You lost it off your 
hat ?” 

“None of your impertinence, sir! I want my dog.” 

"Ah, a dog. Must have jumped off the crystal. You 
ican have him sent on for three hundred and ” 

“Young man, if any harm comes to my Violet — I’ll — 
I’ll — I’ll appeal to the Society for the Prevention of 
.Cruelty to Animals !” 

"Very good, madam. We appreciate your patronage.” 

The door flew open again. A very fat woman, puffing 
angrily, face highly colored, clothing shimmering with 
artificial gems, waddled pompously out of the door 
through which the frantic French doctor had so recently 
vanished. She rolled heavily across the room, and out 
into the corridor. Shrill words floated back : 

“I’m going to see my lawyer ! My precious Violet — ” 

The sallow youth winked. “And now what can I do 
'for you, Eric ?” 

"We want to go to Venus, if that ray of yours can put 
us there.” 

“To Venus? Impossible. My orders are to use the 
Express merely between the sixteen designated stations, 
at New York, San Francisco, Tokio, Lon ” 

"See here, Charley,” with a cautious glance toward the 
door, Eric held up the silver flask. “For old time's sake, 
and for this ” 

The boy seemed dazed at sight of the bright flask. 
Then, with a single swift motion, he snatched it out of 
Eric’s hand, and bent to conceal it below his instrument 
panel. 

“Sure, old boy. I’d send you to heaven for that, if 
you’d give me the micrometer readings to set the ray 


with. But I tell you, this is dangerous. I’ve got a sort 
of television attachment, for focusing the ray. I can 
turn that on Venus — I've been amusing myself, watching 
the life there, already. Terrible place. Savage. I can 
pick a place on high land to set you down. But I can't 
be responsible for what happens afterward.” 

“Simple, primitive life is what we’re looking for. And 
now what do I owe you—; — ” 

“Oh, that’s all right. Between friends. Provided that 
stuff's genuine! Walk in and lie down on the crystal 
block. Hands at your sides. Don’t move.” 

The little door had swung open again, and Eric led 
Nada through. They stepped into a little cell, com- 
pletely surrounded with mirrors and vast prisms and 
lenses and electron tubes. In the center was a slab of 
transparent crystal, eight feet square and two inches 
thick, with an intricate mass of machinery below it; 

Eric helped Nada to a place on the crystal, lay down 
at her side. 

"I think the Express Ray is focused just at the sur- 
face of the crystal, from below,” he said. "It dissolves 
our substance, to be transmitted by the beam. It would 
look as if we were melting into the crystal.” 

“Ready," called the youth. "Think I've got it for 
you. Sort of a high island in the jungle. Nothing bad 
in sight now. But, I say — how’re you coming back? I 
haven’t got time to watch you.” 

"Go ahead. We aren’t coming back.” 

“Gee ! What is it ? Elopement ? I thought you were 
married already. Or is it business difficulties? The 
Bears did make an awful raid last night. But you better 
let me set you down in Hong Kong.” 

A bell jangled. “So long,” the youth called. 

Nada and Eric felt themselves enveloped in (fire. 
Sheets of white flame seemed to lap up about them from 
the crystal block. Suddenly there was a sharp tingling 
sensation where they touched the polished surface. Then 
blackness, blankness. 

T HE next thing they knew, the fires were gone 
from about them. They were lying in something 
extremely soft and fluid ; and warm rain was beating in 
their faces. Eric sat up, found himself in a mud-puddle. 
Beside him was Nada, opening her eyes and struggling 
up, her bright garments stained with black mud. 

All about rose a thick jungle, dark and gloomy — and 
very wet. Palm-like, the gigantic trees were, or fern- 
like, flinging clouds of feathery green foliage high 
against a somber sky of unbroken gloom. 

They stood up, triumphant. 

"At last!” Nada cried. "We’re free! Free of that 
hateful old civilization! We're back to Nature!” 

"Yes, we’re on our feet now, not parasites on the ma- 
chines.” 

"It’s wonderful to have a fine, strong man like you to 
trust in, Eric. You’re just like one of the heroes in 
your books!” 

“You’re the perfect companion, Nada. . . . But now 
we must be practical. We must build a fire, find 
weapons, set up a shelter of some kind. I guess it will 
be night, pretty soon. And Charley said something 
about savage animals <he had seen in the television.” 

“We’ll find a nice dry cave, and have a fire in front 
of the door. And skins of animals to sleep on. And 
pottery vessels to cook in. And you will find seeds and 
grown grain.” 


756 


AMAZING STORIES 


“But first we must find a flint-bed. We need flint for 
tools, and to strike sparks to make a fire with. We will 
probably come across a chunk of virgin copper, too — it’s 
found native.” 

Presently they set off through the jungle. The mud 
seemed to be very abundant, and of a most sticky con- 
sistence. They sank into it ankle deep at every step, 
and vast masses of it clung to their feet. A mile they 
struggled on, without finding where a provident nature 
had left them even a single fragment of quartz, to say 
nothing of a mass of pure copper. 

“A darned shame,” Eric grumbled, “to come forty 
million miles, and meet such a reception as this !” 

Nada stopped. "Eric,” she said, “I’m tired. And I 
don’t believe there’s any rock here, anyway. You’ll have 
to use wooden tools, sharpened in the fire.” 

“Probably you’re right. This soil seemed to be of 
alluvial origin. Shouldn’t be surprised if the native rock 
is some hundreds of feet underground. Your idea is 
better.” 

“You can make a fire by rubbing sticks together, can’t 
you ?” 

“It can be done — easily enough, I’m sure. I’ve never 
tried it, myself. We need some dry sticks, first." 

They resumed the weary march, with a good fraction 
of the new planet adhering to their feet. Rain was still 
falling from the dark heavens in a steady, warm down- 
pour. Dry wood seemed scarce as the proverbial hen’s 
teeth. 

“You didn’t bring any matches, dear?" 

“Matches ! Of course not ! We’re going back to Na- 
ture.” 

“I hope we get a fire pretty soon.” 

“If dry wood were gold dust, we couldn’t buy a 
hot dog.” 

“Eric, that reminds me that I’m hungry.” 

He confessed to a few pangs of his own. They turned 
their attention to looking for banana trees, and coconut 
palms, but they did not seem to abound in the Venerian 
jungle. Even small animals that might have been slain 
with a broken branch had contrary ideas about the 
matter. 

At last, from sheer weariness, they stopped, and 
gathered branches to make a sloping shelter by a vast 
fallen tree-trunk. 

“This will keep out the rain — maybe ” Eric said 

hopefully. “And tomorrow, when it has quit raining — 
I’m sure we'll do better.” 

They crept in, as gloomy night fell without. They 
lay in each other's arms, the body warmth oddly com- 
forting. Nada cried a little. 

“Buck up,” Eric advised her. “We’re back to nature 
— where we’ve always wanted to be.” 

With the darkness, the temperature fell somewhat, and 
a high wind rose, whipping cold rain into the little shel- 
ter, and threatening to demolish it. Swarms of mosquito- 
like insects, seemingly not inconvenienced in the least by 
the inclement elements, swarmed about them in clouds. 

Then came a sound from the dismal stormy night, a 
hoarse, bellowing roar, raucous, terrifying. 

Nada clung against Eric. “What is it, dear?” she 
chattered. 

“Must be a reptile. Dinosaur, or something of the 
sort. This world seems to be in about the same state as 
the earth when they flourished there. . . . But maybe 
it won't find us.” 


The roar was repeated, nearer. The earth trembled 
beneath a mighty tread. 

“Eric,” a thin voice trembled. “Don’t you think — 
it might have been better — You know the old life was 
not so bad, after all.” 

“I was just thinking of our rooms, nice and warm and 
bright, with hot foods coming up the shaft whenever we 
pushed the button, and the gay crowds in the park, and 
my old typewriter.” 

“Eric ?” 

“Yes, dear.” 

“Don't you wish — we had known better?” 

“I do.” If he winced at the “we” the girl did not 
notice. 

The roaring outside was closer. And suddenly it was 
answered by another raucous bellow, at considerable dis- 
tance, that echoed strangely through the forest. The 
fearful sounds were repeated, alternately. And always 
the more distant seemed nearer, until the two sounds 
were together. 

And then an infernal din broke out in the darkness. 
Bellows. Screams. Deafening shrieks. Mighty splashes, 
as if struggling Titans had upset oceans. Thunderous 
crashes, as if they were demolishing forests. 

Eric and Nada clung to each other, in doubt whether 
to stay or to fly through the storm. Gradually the 
sound of the conflict came nearer, until the earth shook 
beneath them, and they were afraid to move. 

Suddenly the great fallen tree against which they 
had erected the flimsy shelter was rolled back, evidently 
by a chance blow from the invisible monsters. The piti- 
ful roof collapsed on the bedraggled humans. Nada 
burst into tears. 

“Oh, if only — if only ” 

Suddenly flame lapped up about them, the same white 
fire they had seen as they lay on the crystal block. Dizzi- 
ness, insensibility overcame them. A few moments later, 
they were lying on the transparent table in the Cosmic 
Express office, with all those great mirrors and prisms 
and lenses about them. 

A bustling, red-faced official appeared through the 
door in the grill, fairly bubbling apologies. 

“So sorry — an accident — inconceivable. I can’t sec 
how he got it ! We got you back as soon as we could 
find a focus. I sincerely hope you haven’t been injured." 

“Why — what — what ’ ’ 

“Why I happened in, found our operator drunk. I’ve 
no idea where he got the stuff. He muttered something 
about Venus. I consulted the auto-register, and found 
two more passengers registered here than had been re- 
corded at our other stations. I looked up the duplicate 
beam coordinates, and found that it had been set on 
Venus. I got men on the television at once, and we hap- 
pened to find you. 

“I can’t imagine how it happened. I’ve had the fel- 
low locked up, and the ‘dry-laws’ are on the job. I hope 
you won’t hold us for excessive damages.” 

“No, I ask nothing except that you don’t press .charges 
against the boy. I don’t want him to suffer for it in 
any way. My wife and I will be perfectly satisfied to 
get back to our apartment.” 

“I don’t wonder. You look like you’ve been through— 
I don’t know what. But I’ll have you there in five 

minutes. My private car ” 

* * * * 

Mr. Eric Stokes-Harding noted author of primitive 


November, 1930 


THE COSMIC EXPRESS 


.757 


life and love, ate a hearty meal with his pretty spouse, 
after they had washed off the grime of another planet. 
He spent the next twelve hours in bed. 

At the end of the month he delivered his promised 
story to his publishers, a thrilling tale of a man ma- 


rooned on Venus, with a beautiful girl. The hero made 
stone tools, erected a dwelling for himself and his mate, 
hunted food for her, defended her from the mammoth 
saurian monsters of the Venerian jungles. 

The book was a huge success. 


The End. 


READERS’ VOTE OF PREFERENCE 

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3 

Why: 


Why: 






This is YOUR magazine. Only by knowing what stories you like, can we please you. Fill out this coupon, or 
copy it and mail it to Amazing Stories, 381 Fourth Avenue, New York City, telling us what type of story— interplane- 
tary, biological, psychological, archeological or other kind — you prefer. 

Also, we are very much interested in knowing how you like our new dress and make-up. We arc trying to make 
Amazing Stories a real magazine, but we need your help, 

I prefer 


Name City.. 

Address State. 



U SSIONS 


ii,ii at i»i 'Ti i ttfc< i | i ' ii n, i" 



In this department we shall discuss, every month, topics ol interest to readers. The editors invite correspondence on all 
subjects directly or indirectly related to the atorics appearing in this magazine. In case a special personal answer is required, 
a nominal ice oi 25c to cover time and postage is required. 


REPRINTS STILL WANTED 

Editor, Amazing Stories: 

Just a few lines to tell you of several stories 
which I have enjoyed immensely. The first one 
is "The Grim Inheritance" by Carl Clausen. In 
my opinion, which may not amount to much, this 
story is a masterpiece. It held me from begin- 
ning to end. There was just one wrong thing 
about the story: It was far too short. If he has 
any more to offer, get them. 

Your one and only play published to date, “Just 
Around the Corner," by Raymond Knight, hit the 
right spot with me. How about several more 
plays? Especially by Raymond Knight. 

And now I'm going to take you with nte on a 
little trip into the past to sec again a grand short 
story. All of which is just a way of introducing 
"The Talking Drain" by M. H. Hasta. I lived 
With Murtha in that story through his experiments, 
discoveries and disappointments. And I lived 
with poor Vinton through his torture. You said 
in the readers' columns that you might republish 
old favorites which have already appeared in 
Amazing Stories. I do not approve of this but, 
if you ever do, please print "The Talking Brain." 
By the way, why not try to persuade Mr. Hasta 
to write another story? I doubt if it can even 
approach the glory which the first story has at- 
tained but, even so, it ought to be great. 

How do you spell A. Merritt correctly? Merit? 
That's one way. Perhaps you know what I am 
hinting at. It is this. A story is wanted by him. 
Pardon me, it’s needed before we all forget how 
to spell Merritt, one of the real writers. 

And now we come to "The Second Deluge,” by 
Garret P. Scrviss, a story which, in my opinion, 
captures all honors. I even include “A Columbus 


of Space," "The Moon Pool" and the mighty 
"Skylark of Space,” in this category, 

Mr. Editor, why did you commit the awful 
crime of not printing the stories of H. G. Wells 
in many back issues? And while I'm on the sub- 
ject, how about Jules Verne? S'awful. Several 
of your authors have made and are making the 
mistake of creating a marvel for a hero. The hero 
almost dies, is captured by the ferocious enemy 
who intends to destroy the world, escapes by the 
margin of o microbe's whisker, saves the world 
from a terrible death, kisses the girl and becomes 
the lord of the Earth's millions. Show me one 
story by Verne or Wells which have these kinds 
of heroes. One reason why their works are 
popular is that there arc living people in their 
books. 

Before I close, I would like to show you a co- 
incidence that has occurred in A. S. Do you 
remember the story. “Absolute Zero," by Colter? 
Well, Colter, in Jewish, means colder, "Absolute 
Zero" is a frigid subject and, moreover, the story 
appeared in the January, 1929 issue, a cold month. 
Brrrr. 

Isidore Manzon, 

544 Myrtle Ave,, 
Brooklyn, N. Y. 

(If our correspondents could see the number 
of manuscripts of thoroughly good stories we have 
awaiting publication, they would understand why 
we are not giving reprints. We have found that 
reprints of stories hy Jules Verne and H. G. 
Wells arc not popular with our readers. They 
seem to feel that these stories ore too easily acces- 
sible to bear reprinting. Garret P. Serviss is 
dead. Mr. Merritt will enjoy your spelling of 
his name we are sure. There are very live people 


in our stories. It is not necessary to give titles 
os all of them are full of human nature. We 
avoid dry stories, giving more character than 
many non science stories.— Editor.) 


THE SCIENCE CORRESPONDENCE CLUB 

Editor , Amazing Stoiies: 

I wish to reply to some of the inquiries made 
to you regarding the Science Correspondence 

Club: 

First, there are no paid officers in the Club. 

The aims of the Club are to promote science 
by actually making experiments, by study, and 
through correspondence, also by organizing 
branches throughout the country where members 
can get together, exchange ideas, put Into practice 
their theories. 

A library is maintained by the Club for the use 
of the members; this library consists only of 
books pertaining to Bcicnce and science fiction, 
also a collection of science fiction magazines. 

Amateur astronomy is encouraged, especially 
in Variable Star and Meteor Observing, 

The dues are Three Dollars per annum, the 
dues being used for the purpose of publishing a 
monthly bulletin, which is free to the members. 

Among our members arc some of the world's 
foremost authorities, who ever stand ready to 
assist us in our problems. 

Application blanks can be obtained cither from 
the writer, or from the Secretary, Raymond A. 
Palmer, 1431 — 38tb Street. Milwaukee, Wis. 

F. B. Eason, President, 
Science Correspondence Club, 
400 Jefferson Ave., 

East Point, Ga. 


758 


AMAZING STORIES 


The Globoid Terror 

By R. F. Starzl 

( Continued from page 705) 


A spot of light fell on Crombie’s chest. For a second 
he stared at it in surprise. For when such a light struck 
a man he was supposed to be dead. The tinkle of 
broken glass near by brought realization. The indi- 
cator light of that particular weapon was out of order — 
the invisible twin D'Arsonval beams had missed their 
mark. 

With a shout Crombie leaped to the protection of a 
Huge motor near by. Crackling sparks playing about the 
Expansion spheres showed where the beams were im- 
pinging. Presently he found one of his enemies, trying 
to bring his weapon to bear from a conveyor pole outside. 
That man went down. The officer put on his infra-red 
goggles, and was gratified to see several more marksmen 
trying for him from the dead stumps of giant ferns. 
These, too, stumbled to the frozen ground. Crombie 
swept the jungle, hoping that nothing in the compound 
would get into his weapon's unlimited range. There 
were bestial cries, crashes, the sough of huge, invisible 
wings. 

Crombie cautiously peered out of a rear door. Evi- 
dently this building was a considerable distance from 
the one he had entered several hours ago. A cautious 
sweep of the projector brought the snap of electricity 
but no sign of an ambuscade. He crept to the front and 
ascertained that there was no man alive there. Only 
seven were dead, showing here and there ghastly ash 
patches. 

“That leaves De Maine and two of his men, not 'to 
say anything about old Burgess and his daughter, and 
not counting the natives,” he muttered. 

He left the ice-covered area of the mines and trudged 
back toward the compound. He had hopes of intercept- 
ing the party that would be returning from the com- 
pound, but could not find any green outcropping. 

The residence seemed deserted. Not a servant was in 
sight. Crombie burned off the lock of a closed door, 
kicked it open. It led into the factor’s library. It dis- 
closed Burgess, too, just recovering from a blow on 
the head. 

“They're gone!” the shaken old man wailed. “De 
Maine, the scoundrel ! He took Verna with him.” 

"You mean she went with him,” Crombie amended 
dryly. 

“I mean he forced her,” the old man insisted. “One 
of the natives gave De Maine away. He’s the one who’s 
been robbing the company. Putting in a percentage of 
chemical imitations with the real carbons, keeping the 
rest. I trusted him — never examined them closely. The 
chemical imitations volatilized over night, leaving the 
safe short, yet the seals were unbroken. He came here 
a little while ago — we denounced him. He laughed — 
struck me— must have taken her with him ” 

“Quick, which way to the green outcropping?” 


“Take the corduroy away from the mine, toward the 

So that explained why he had not met them. There 
was another corduroy. Crombie ran, unlimbering his 
projector for action. He found the outcrop, its color 
due to a thick, slippery moss. Several times he nearly 
slipped off into the morass, each time barely finding a 
hold for his lacerated fingers. But' the distance was 
short. In a few minutes his feet trod the comparatively 
firm sand of the beach. 

The goggles disclosed three figures running toward a 
huge, egg-shaped body nestling in the sand beside a rock. 
That would be the Spittin' Devil, De Maine’s flying 
ovoid, beside Despair Rock. They were dragging an un- 
willing fourth — the girl. The officer rapidly overtook 
the struggling four. By the time they had reached the 
rock he was within a hundred feet of them, invisible to 
them, but able to see plainly. 

Suddenly the four stopped. Something had come out 
of the sea. Crombie’s scalp prickled and a shudder 
coursed down his spine. He recognized that half-myth- 
ical sea-monster, which, for hundreds of years there- 
after, was to make human settlement on the shores of the 
Venetian seas a risky gamble. 

It came toward its victims with a slow, rhythmic flow- 
ing motion, laying a part of its amorphous body on the 
sand and drawing the rest after it in a deceptive, slow- 
seeming movement. With horrible, remorseless ease it 
traversed that short stretch of beach. Then, as by com- 
mand, the three men drew their projectors, trained them 
on that shimmering, uncertain spheroid of terror. The 
girl, released, shrieked and ran toward Crombie. As 
his form loomed up out of the murky fog she tried to 
evade him, but he caught her roughly, held her for an 
instant. 

“Get back to the compound and tell your father to 
keep away from here,” he commanded. He turned his 
attention to the tragedy on the water’s edge. 

Like figures in a nightmare, the doomed men still stood 
immovable, their projectors held on the menace, but the 
beams passed through the transparent membrane and 
phosphorescent contents. They could not harm it. For 
one brief instant, evanescent as the dissolving clouds on 
the surface of a bubble, the wretches stared gauntly at 
their doom. In the next, the men turned to run, and like 
a fleeting shadow, the sea terror rolled after them, en- 
circling them, blotting them out, obliterating them. For 
another heartbeat it paused, vibrating like a mountain of 
disturbed jelly, then leisurely rolled back into the sea. 

Where it had poised quivering, there was a shallow 
depression, quickly filling with water. There were also 
a few coins, dental fillings of gold, keys, and a few 
handfuls of the priceless gray carbons. 


The End 


November, 1930 


AMAZING STORIES 


759 



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THE MONTHLY MAGAZINE APPROVED 
OF. A LITTLE ROMANCE WELCOMED. 

SOME LETTERS IN THE CORRE- 
SPONDENCE COLUMN COMMENTED 
ON 

Editor, Amazing Stories: 

Have just finished reading the May and June 
issues of Amazino Stories. I had been rather 
busy, what with school work and all, and in a 
breathing space afforded by being a trifle ahead 
of my work, I decided to catch up on my read- 
ing. As usual, I read the Discussions Column 
first. 

Mr. Robert Dalton wants to know why you do 
not publish Asiazing Stories twice a month and 

literature comes out twice a month and what is 
the consequence? Ail the stories arc nearly alike 
and the editors have not time to efficiently and 
intelligently supervise the material they allow to 
be printed. Unless they have an excellent staff 
of authors and*cditors, their stuff is dry. dead 
and rotten. Once a month is just about all a 
reader can assimilate intelligently. 

Now the burden that some o( the readers seem 
to carry — romance. Why shouldn't "females," as 
Dalton calls them, be included in the science 
fiction stories? Remember, "Love makes the 

phere to an otherwise cold, niachinc-like scien- 

I nearly forgot the serials. As to tlieir being 
drawn out, I do not remember one that has been 
longer than three Instalments, which I consider a 
nice length for serials. 

The correspondence page for "letter-hungry 
persons" is aptly taken care of in "Discussions." 
1 believe if that docs not suffice, there is the Sci- 
ence Correspondence Club, which is now an estab- 
lished institution, and these persons can write 
and receive letters to their heart's content. 

Mr. P. Schuyler Miller's letter was extremely 
interesting. Here's hoping we hear from him 

To Mr. J. B. Bridgeford: Your supposition 
that Amazino Stories is read by thousands of 
American youths is correct, hut do you think 
that the kind of stories you object to, lit,, "The 
Ice Man," would have much, if any effect on 
them? On the conlrory, I think the type of youth 
that reads this magazine has the imagination nnd 
the power of mind to enjoy these stories and that 
also enables them to pick out the salient and edu- 
cational ideas expressed and to cast off the sordid 

"The Gostak nnd the Doslics" was a remark- 
ably satirical and humorous story of man. But 
what else could be expected from Dr. Brcucr? 

What happened to Clare Winger Harris? I've 
missed her stories for some time and when I say 
that I wish you would print some of her stories 
again, I think that I express the sentiments of not 
a few Amazino Stories readers. 

By the way. the meaning of the decorative 
title-block for Discussions has just come to me. 
Brickbats and Roses I Great I 

The quality and quantity of the stories printed 
in Amazino Stories for the last three months 
really deserves some comment, so let me echo the 
feelings of the others and say, thank you. 

What do you mean by “look for slight incon- 
sistencies in Mr. Vcrrill's stories"? Please ex- 
plain, I think they're great. 

, Darrel Richards, 

8720 Hamilton Avc,, 
Detroit, Michigan 

(Wo are always glad to hear that one of our 
readers goes to the Discussions Columas first. 
It is quite Interesting to see the thought that 

they write to us, and wc sometimes wonder how 
many realize the amount of writing there is in- 
volved in the five or six pages of fine print which 
our Discussions Columns represent. Your an- 
alysis of the oncc-a-month or twice-a-month ques- 
tion as it may be put, is quitq ingenious. We 
have, however, no difficulty in getting good Btories 
and we promise you that whatever happens in 
the future the standard of Amazino Stories will 
never he impaired. It is a profound mystery to 
the Editors, how any exception can be taken to 
such a story as “The Ice Man.” We sometimes 
think that some members of the fair sex might 
be benefited by laying its flattering (or otherwise) 
unction to their souls. You will never be disap- 
pointed in Dr. Breuer. Your expressions about 
Mrs. Harris, we hope will lead to her sending 

cidence, but as we read what you say about Mr. 
Vcrrill’s stories the gentleman himself is with 
us. but we will not show him this, lest we make 


him blush. Mr. Verriil is a distinctive writer. 
What would he inconsistencies in matter of fact 
treatises will often appear in highly imaginative 
fiction. — E ditor.) 

SUPERSTITION, ASTROLOGY AND 
CREDULOUS HUMANITY 

Editor, Amazino Stories: 

I have read every slory published in your 
magazine since its appearance in April. 1926, and 
have a complete file of the 97 monthly issues, 

Should not that qualify me as an Amazino Stories 
fan, entitled to express an opinion? It is not 
my purpose, however, to indulge in an appraisal 
of your fiction — the fact that I have read ail 
of it, enjoyed most oi it, and been bored by 
very little of it is proof that I consider it enter- 
taining, for the most part instructive, and fre- 
quently nnmsing, such as the clever satire in 
Rementcr's "The Time Deflector.” 

Tales of interplanetary travel, lost Atlantises, 

Verne's "A Journey to the Moon" and "Twenty 
Thousand Leagues Under the Sea," Bulwcr Lyt- 
ton’s "The Coming Race," Burroughs’ Martian 
stories, and other early fantasies of these pioneers 
of acientifiction, with Poe, Wells and a few 
other choice souls. They were the forerunners 
of a great school of Verrllls, Vincents, Breuera, 
Kellers, and all the bright galaxy of visionaries 

the macrocosm and the microcosm. I have been 
charmed and thrilled by such stories, as "The 
Moon Pool" — in my humble opinion the greatest 
slury you have ever published for sheer daring 
and adventure, although "The Skylark of Space." 
“The Other Side of the Moon," "Beyond the 
Green Prism," and several others closely ap- 
proach It. Your exploitation of science garbed in 
the popular habiliments oi fiction has done much to 
create a new cult in literature, and the flood of 
books anil new magazines devoted to it should he 
considered by you as the sincere*! flattery. Only 
n negligible number of the fanciful predictions 
made by your writers will ever he realized. They 
are for tile most part shot through with fallacy, 
inconsistency, Impossibility and pseudo-science, 

grip upon the Imagination, and their nppeal to 
the romantic which some of your critics find ob- 

But that is not what I started out to say. By 
way of introduction 1 wanted to assure you that 
I like your stories, approve your illustrations, 
and have no fault to find with your format (I am 

wish, however, to protest most vigorously against 
your countenancing such ridiculous fakes as 
astrology, fortune-telling, paimlBlry nnd the like 
by publishing their advertisements. Stories aro 
accepted as fiction, but advertisements are sup- 
posed to he honest and trustworthy. And no one 
knows better than you that astrology has long 
been discarded by the scientific world and classed 
with witchcraft, sorcery, necromancy, and other 
superstitions that are only throw-backs of bar- 
barism. Then why permit the charlatans who 
practice it to appeal to the credulous? No one 
knows better than you that combinations of 
planets or constellations cannot possibly have any 
bearing whatever upon the lives of those horn at 
any particular time. No one knows better than 
you that those who pretend to foretell the future, 
by any means, natural or occult, or to answer the 

love? Will your investments he profitable?" (I 
quote) are plain and unqualified liars and 
mountebanks preying upon the credulity of the 
ignorant and the superstitious. These things have 
not even the semblance of pseudo-science to justify 
them. Let us clean up our scientifiction by banish- 
ing the last remaining purveyors of the inano 
and silly superstitions that cursed the Dark Ages 
and have kept the savage nations of the earth 
savage. Write an editorial on the curse of 
astrology and leave its advertisements out of your 
pages. Clio Harper, 

Little Rock, Arkansas. 

(We are very glad indeed to publish your let- 
tention of' the manager of our advertising depart- 
astrology and similar things, absolutely disbe- 

possible that there can he more than a very few 
believers in such superstitions, but it is said by 

immense number of people victimized by these be- 
liefs and by the practitioners of them, who make a 
comfortable living, with their practices. — E ditor.) 



November, 1930 


AMAZING STORIES 


761 


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AMAZING STORIES 


November, 1930 





ACCWTSnT 


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SOMETHING DIFFERENT 



tJEW* METHOD MFC. ... 
DuM.S.-U Mow Motted Bldg, StidM, Pa. 


REPRINTS WANTED AND COMPARED 
WITH ORIGINAL STORIES 


especially in regard 


iainly improved a 
ic changed hands, 
ations. Wesso, of 


ow to get down to the real purpose of this 
:r. You have printed many letters from read- 
who demand reprints. You have given all 


•ials now being published may be good, but 
! infinitely better than they arc. In fact, most 


t Kingdom, 


of f 

rotten I I especially refer ti 
"Out of the Void," “The ! 

"Beyond the Green Prism 
serials are only fair. 

Another of your objections is that readers have 
disapproved of reprints that you have published 
the past. In that you are wrong, Mr. Editor, 
is true that the stories of H. G. Wells and Jules 
rne were quite unpopular. However, it was 
i and not the readers, who insisted on reprint- 
the dull, uninteresting, and out-of-date stories 
of the two above writers. When I say I want 
reprints, I emphatically exclude the works of 

i seem to forget that the most popular story 


in / 


s was a reprint 


e Moon Pool.” I challenge you to name me 
new stories which were more popular than the 
wing: "The Land that Time Forgot," "The 
Second Deluge," "The Face in the Abyss," 
"Treasures of Tantalus" and "Ralph 124C 41 +," 
all of which are reprints. 

Again you say thnt the stories of Serviss, Bur- 

I have been to all the 
ad not one of the books 

der has called your 


. I Cummir 
Again you c 




g the 


I you o 


only to he 

broken!" If that is your real attitude toward 

This letter is rather long, but it is sincere. I 
hoi>c that you will print it in "Discussions," In 
older that you can answer my arguments. I be- 
t I have smashed all your objections to 
If you don't think so, please tell me 


1 ho] 


■e you will change your mind 
ind have at least one every 
of Burroughs, Serviss, Cunt- 
are preferable. 

Michael Fogaris, 

157 Fourth St, 
Passaic, N. J. 


(Please do not take our quotation of a classic 
proverb as a serious statement of our feeling about 
pledges. We certainly do not want to lose your 
respect for us. We still have the stories which 

into sha|ie for publication. We now have on hand 
a quantity of original stories and the mere fact 
of there being so many really good ones, as for 
instance the story we plan to start in the Novem- 
ber issue, operates to cut down the number of re- 
prints. We will think seriously about what you 
say, however. It is a serious step and needs time 
for deliberation. — Editor.) 


A LETTER OF INTERESTING CRITICISM 
OF OUR AUTHORS 



glibly over the translation of the manusi 
order not to let the reader see the weak 
it. If we are translating the manuscript i 
absolutely nothing to work upon. We do m 


k Dalton easil 
"k There i 


the mys- 
ranslated 
actually 


with it. If y 
describe it for me? 

In the July issue there were some good stories. 
The concluding part of Edmond Hamilton's story, 
"The Universe Wreckers" was great. Mr. Ham- 
ilton has a way of writing that is exceedingly 
interesting to the reader, even if his plots are 
monotonously similar. When he varies his plots, 
lie produces nn excellent story. "Evans of the 
Earth Guard" and "The Space Visitors." although 

A. Hyatt Verrill's story, "A Visit to Suari" 
was excellent, but only because of its originality. 
"The Message from Space" was good in spile of 
the slight error in the presentation. All that I 
can say about that great story of time-traveling, 
"Paradox -|-" is that it is better than its prcdcccs- 

Impcllcd by curiosity, I catalogued and indexed 
the work of all of your authors since January, 
1929, and rated each story until I got these im- 
pressions. David H. Keller is "not so hot" 
His good stories, like "The Human Termites" 
mid the two "Conqueror" stories are mixed with 
numerous stories ol psychological interest only, 
which have very little science in them. Miles 
J. Brener, A. Hyatt Verrill, and Ifarl Vincent 

has put out just three stories that are A-l. So 
hold on to John W. Campbell, Jr. In ray opinion, 

Please do not print any of the much-demanded 
H. G. Wells stories ns most of the readers have 
read them. The stories may be procured In the 
library and in the magazine arc just occupying 
much-needed space. 

I have heard so much about A. Merritt's story, 
"The Moon Pool" that I would like to secure a 
copy of it in book form. Could you tell me how 
to secure it? 

Harold Applcbaum, 

1044 East 12th Street, 
Brooklyn, N. V. 

(We admit that our authors indulge in a sort 
of poetic license in some of their details. To 
carry out the stories a little bit of the inqionaible 
has to be inserted in many cases, and certainly 
some of the characters appear to have an extrnor- 

you will have to allow them that power. Your 
remarks about ^Mr. Campbell are interesting In 

which criticized him unfavorably. Your other 
names arc those of our highest grade authors. 
Dr, Brener, a celebrated diagnostician, Mr, Verrill, 
a writer of some 50 books and an archeologist and 
ethnologist of wide reputation, and Harl Vincent, 
the nom-dc-plume of an engineer holding a high 
position In one of the great engineering companies 
of this country, arc typical of those who write 
for us, — E ditor.) 


OUR ARTISTS AND OUR PAPER 

Editor , Amazing Storizs: 

Good morning, or maybe, it's afternoon I Well, 
here's A. S. in its 5th year, and it's not much 
better than when it started. The paper is rotten, 
the covers fall oil; we only get 70 pages for 25c, 
and the illustrations are terrible. By the way— 
where is PAUL? He is a real artist. His draw- 
ings were almost like photographs — they were 
so realistic, and clear in detail, and all of the 
Profs, weren't pictured as having whiskers either. 
Most of your illustrations now are very crude, 
and are not very clear. For instance, take a 
squint at page 23, April A. S., then look at one 
of Paul's drawings. Some difference, eh what? 
The illustration on the front is the only one worth 
looking at. 

Speaking of mags in general, the Saturday 
Evening Post puts at least 100 pages of reading 
matter, good illustrations, good paper, and a 
mag that stays together, all for a jitney (5c). 
other magazines have a lot of advertisements, but, 
before you can get advertisements, you must have 
a circulation and before you can get a circulation. 


November, 1930 


AMAZING STORIES 


763 



TRITON AND THE FORCE RAY IN "THE 
UNIVERSE WRECKERS" 

Editor. Ama2IN0 S tomes: 

In July's Issue of Amazino Stosizs tliere was 
a statement that puzxled me. In "The Universe 
Wreckers." it said, that when the force ray 
controls were destroyed. Triton immediately was 
forced out of the Solar System. If it took four 
years for the ray to reach the star it would take 
four years for the fact that the source of the ray 
had been cut off to be realized on the star. In 
that time the sun would have been destroyed. 
This fact is clearly explained in a story in the 
same hook. "A Message from Space." The man 

by the time it reached the earth. The power had 
been cut off at the source, but this did not affect 
the message in any way. Please explain this to 

Robert Ifayman, 

320 Jefferson Ave.. 

Niagara Falls, N. Y. 

(As far ns the star you refer to is concerned, 
the story didn't care what became of it. Triton, 
the satellite of Neptune, was the one which could 
be disturbed, and as that would fly off into space 
like a rocket it would cease to affect the sun. — 


CASEOUS BEINGS IMPOSSIBLE 


Editor, Amazing Stosizs: 

In a recent issue of Amazing Stosizs I came 

some analogies. I don’t quite remember the name 

mnl called "the clementals." 

There are several reasons why the existence 
of gaseous creatures are impossible. First of all, 

other. Secondly — the creature due to the diffu- 
sion of gases would permeate the entire atmosphere. 
They would be unable to cat or handle any liquid 
or solids. The slightest breeze would scatter parts 
of their body everywhere. They would be highly 

tremendous surface exposed. Even if they had 
a protective outer shell, the gases of which their 
bodies would be composed would escape due to 




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“I suppose this means more bridge, and 
I'm tired of that," said John Thompson. 
"Can't we find something unusual to do?" 

"Well, here conics Sally Barrow. She 
might offer a solution to the problem,” sug- 
gested Jimmy Parsons. 

Poor Sally I Unfortunately she was consid- 
erably overweight. Nevertheless the boys all 
liked Sally — she was so jolly and full of fun. 

"Hello everybody," came Sally's cheery 
greeting, "What's new?” 

“That’s just it, Sally, we've just about 
reached the end of our rope," replied John. 

“Would it surprise you if I played a tune 
or two for you on the piano?" 

“You play, Sally? Don't be funny I” The 
very idea of Sally having talent in any direc- 
tion struck everybody as a joke. However, 
Sally didn't mind being laughed at — as 
long as John Thomp- 
son didn't join In the 
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"THE CAMPBELLS ARE COMING" IN 
THE WORDS OF THE OLD SCOTCH 
SONG 

Editor, Amazino Stories: 

I see that you have the intention of starting 
a real battle in tho Discussions Column of your 
magazine. That comment on my last letter was 
certainly an invitation to warfare. Welt, Dr. 
Smith gave his Invitation in that foreword. 

ments, from anyone, and in particular Dr. Smith. 
If you arc willing to use Discussions as a battle- 
ground-look out for stray bricks! 

I might suggest that Dr. Smith save his biggest 
guns, and heaviest artillery for “Islands of 
Space." Also, any death rnys, fourth order, ninth 
magnitude forces, and all higher order rays, 

defied 


ors go. No n 
, save that i 
s he si 




v them- 
irecii, being purely 

cold. Consequently, 


capahle of being cither hot 

the heating of a ray acri . .. .. _ 

hensible. However, the old errors arc still there, 
the impossible planetary polyary, if that is what 
one would call a system of many suns, building on 
binary and ternary) system of the green suns, 
the improbable speed, I might say impossible. 
For allowing even that the mass of copper was 
completely destroyed, its energy can readily be 
figured by the formula E = Mc* where M is the 
mass of metal, C the velocity of light In cm. per 
F, the energy in ergs. Similarly using 


the o 


nergy f 


, lenvini 


r the 


of n 


e disai 


d the September issue 


eady, ; 


point. Say for i 


You will admit I 


. Now 


lo SO M. P. II. 
00 ^M. P. H. 


in 20 seconds. Acceleration 
would only require 40 seconds 
get up a speed of say 186,000 miles per minute — 
would only require 300 hours, at the comfortable 
rate of 50 M. P. H. increase every 20 seconds. 
Judging acceleration by deceleration, I have 
stopped a car from SO M. P. H. in 15 seconds 
(involuntarily) and the only way it hurt me was 
in striking my head against the windshield. If 
it had been padded and if I had been tight against 
it I would have felt no discomfort. 


^1 hope I have made my ideas dear to you. 

Edit. Comment, page 569, Sept., 1930 issue, you 
say that 300 M. P. II. is very trying to the crew 
of an aeroplane? You should have qualified this 
by saying "in making turns at this speed,” for 
centrifugal force thereupon acts the same, ac- 
cording to the sharpness of tho turn as if another 
acceleration were added to that already being 
experienced in the time taken for the plane to 
complete the turn. In other words, a plane 
moving 300 M. P. H. making a sharp turn re- 
quiring 10 seconds, would have the acceleration of 
the peak of 300 M. P. H. right in the middle ot 
the 10 seconds, the balance of the 10 seconds 
tapering off at the start and finish of the turn. 
Straightaway at 300 M. P. H. won’t bother any 
one after they have once gained this speed. Start- 
ing, stopping and turning are the only factors 

serious way. 

W. J. M„ 

Macon, Ga. 

(The speed of 300 miles an hour is trying to 
the crew of an airplane because they have to turn 
and change their course — they cannot go oil in a 
straight line forever. They could, however, re- 
duce their speed at the turns, if the plane would 
allow it. The point we wished to bring out and 
seemed to have failed in our attempt, is that sud- 
den turns at high speeds, such as possible with 
airplanes arc very trying and in many cases un- 
endurable. — Editor.) 


ia give a result faulty on the side of lowness, 
we can sec that at the velocities Seaton attains, 
when E-r-atfMv 1 , M the mass of the car in 
grams, v In cm. per sec. and E again in ergs — 
wo can equate M>c*= J4Mv*. letting M> be the 

car. C is fixed — the velocity of light. It is 
rasy, then, to solve for v— the maximum speed 
that amount of energy would permit. M 1 was 
said to he 400 pounds, and M, I believe, 4000 
tons, or 8,000,000 pounds. The speed was de- 
cidedly limited by the energy of the liar — even 
material energy ns Dr. Smith should properly 
have culled It. (The term is not mine, but that 
of Sir James Jeans.) 

“ Smith d" 


with other of Einstein’s formulae. What then 
is his figure— he must have some? 

Knocks — yes. But I want to say that in my 
opinion the Skylark Stories violate fewer prin- 
ciples of science than any others I have read in 
your magazine. When you have to call in Kin 
stein and Sir James Jeans for help in locating 
the errors — it's a good yarn! 

John W. Campbell, Jr., 

East Orange, N. J. 

THE 800 M. P. H. AIRPLANE 

Editor, Amazino Stories: 

of the best an 
lished. 

Dr. Smith’s 
Three" is even 

1927 I have, though "broke" mail 
managed to shell out 25 or 50 • 
the Monthly or the Quarterly. 

’ ••’ orics : 

•ful— b 
. rrible). 

Now listen to this: In speaking of the ability 
of a person to stand high acceleration: When 
you first feel the motion of a car starting off 
you are pressed back in your scat. The faster 
you move in the slower passage of time — the more 
you feel the pressure. Yet, after you reach a 
speed of 50 or so M. P. H. • • - - - 


FROM A WOMAN READER 

Editor, Amazino Stories: 

Beyond question, A. Hyatt Vcrriil is the best 
of your authors. I sometimes read of his move- 
ments in the newspapers and wonder why he has 
never come to Washington lo lecture at the 

and intelligent audience (a quiet one. too) would 
he there to hear him. We take our lectures very 

While I forget if it was published in Amazino 
Stories, the best story of the "Amazing" type 
I have ever read was "The Moon Pool." 

The Discussion Department of the Magazine is 
to me a very important part of it. If you omitted 
it, I should feel quite badly about it. It would 
he better perhaps if criticism were made only in 
regard to present accepted fact. However, a 
question raised regarding tho possibility of, or the 
steps already taken toward, establishing scientific 
theories should he given space and answered if 
possible. A good idea, I titink, would be to let 
tlm author himself make the explanation. 

childish, although 1 prefer a smooth paper. 

I enjoy, for the most part, everything you pub- 
lish, but prefer the longer stories and my brain 
is even callable of comprehending quite tong 
serials. I find it a comfortable relaxation to 
ponder over the problems raised or solved In the 
instalments published while waiting for the nest 


onth's 




"The World of Giant Ants" was a masterpiece, 

superlatives. “The White Army" which was 
instructive us well as interesting, is also the kind 
that I tike. I find it quite easy to take doses of 
education in this entertaining manner. 

I turn first of all to Dr. Keller's story, if there 
is one, although Mr. Verrill is my favorite. I 
tried to get a very young attorney who complained 
of the human frailties of stenographers, to read 
"Stenographer’s Hands," but was only laughed at. 
Perhaps some one wilt kindly invent a machine to 
please the very young attorneys. They will, you 
know, employ eighth grade graduates with a six- 
months’ business college veneer and expect the 
poor things to know ns much about the English 
language as themselves. 

Can you tell us, please, about the experiment 
made in Chicago concerning the foot-pounds c( 
energy required to replace tSat expended daily 
by typists? 

Irene Laun, 
Washington, D. C. 

("The Moon Pool” appeared in May, June and 
July, 1927. We agree with what you say 
about the Discussions Department in the magazine. 
The editor sometimes feds that he would like to 
have a magazine made up entirely of letters. Dr. 
Keller and Mr. Vcrriil are certainly among our 
very best authors. We have not got tho figures 
of the Chicago test at hand, but as the average 
typist pounds the keys with her hands, perhaps 
you might better talk of the hand-pounds instead 
of the foot-pounds expended on the typewriter. — 
Editor.) 












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November, 1930 


AMAZING STORIES 


767 


LIFE ON OTHER PLANETS. OUR 
COVERS AND PAPER 


Editor. Amazing Stories: 



Years" which was very Rood and appeared in 
Amazing Stories Quarterly some time ago, and 
some good reprints for the benefit of those who 
have not read your magazine until recently. I 
think the magazine cover of Amazing Stories is 
all right, so is the name, just keep up the color 
effect of putting bright objects on a darker back- 
ground. You want your magazine to attract at- 
tention. The grade of paper is 0. K. If you 
would make It too high a grade of paper, the 
price would go up, and then the readers would 
kick, I think that if some of these persons that 
criticise the magazine so much would take care to 
consider the problem on both sides, they would 
not have much left to criticise, although occa- 
sionally there arc some stories which are not 
so good. 

Edward Westfall, 

209 S. Hanover Sl„ 

Carlisle, Pa. 

(The Discussions Columns are open for, and 
intended for, kicks or brickbats, as they arc some 

spice to the columns even when we are abused, 
or rather when the results of our humble efforts 
are abused. We are up against what seems to be 
an Insoluble problem — that of life on other celestial 
bodies. Professor Jeans, who Is at the very sum- 
mit of the astronomical world, leaves us quite 
doubtful if there is life on any stellar body, 
owing to the conditions of temperature. But, of 

of life that can rzisl without a'i/a'l' high temper- 
nothing about it. You would be surprised if you 

cover of Amazing Stories, and the criticisms of 
many of our readers arc curious, to say the least, 
and we are very glad when we get such a favor- 
able criticism as yours. If the critics, instead of 
looking at them merely as a spot of color, would 
examine them more closely, they would find a 
great deal of design and what wc may call “story" 
in every one of them. In one. of the Gilbert and 
Sullivan operas, wc are told that "the policeman's 
life is not a happy one" or words to that elfcct. 
It sometimes seems that the same could apply 
to the editors of Amazing Stories. "Paradox +" 

fail to please others and lice vena . — Editor.) 


QVITTOB/ICCO 

KEELEY TREATMENT FOR A 
TOBACCO HABIT yM ? 

Essmmssssptb ' ^ 



SOME QUESTIONS ABOUT AIR, GRAVI- 
TATION, AND EFFECTS OF DIS- 
TURBANCES ON THE 
ATMOSPHERE 


Editor, Amazing Stories: 

Having just finished your August number, I 
wish to ask a few questions concerning the state- 
ments of Mr. Hansen which you printed in your 
correspondence section. 

Concerning the effects of the nullification of 
gravity on our atmosphere; Mr. Hansen says that 
air is evidently not affected by gravity. If such 
were true, how does he account for what pressure 
is exerted on the surface by air? The weight of 

traction of gravity for the substance, is it not? 
How then does air have weight and still not be 
affected by gravity? 

Also Mr. Hansen speaks of the ability of air 
to replenish itself as an "uncanny property." I 

the properties of all plants in respect to replenish- 
ing the oxygen supply and refer him to the well- 


One more question. What is the analogy be- 
tween a furnace and a gravity screen? \V 
corresponds to the asbestos? Also what cl 
could radio, telegraphy, or airplanes have on 
atmosphere in the way of a chemical reaction 
I can sincerely say that I enjoyed every stor 
the August issue and look forward to 
Quarterly, and the September number contaii 
more "Skylark Three." 

Lewis Cook, Jr., 


Chattanooga. Tenn. 

(Air is attracted to the earth by gravity. Just 

descends into its depths, so is the pressure of air 
greatest at the surface of the earth, which repre- 
sents the greatest depth of the ocean of air in 
which we are immersed. And Ibis increasing 
pressure of water and of air is absolutely due to 


with water, placing a lot of leaves in It and then 

enters, gives the basis of an experiment for col- 
lecting air from plant leaves. As for your three 
questions, in the next to your last paragraph which 
you have labelled curiously enough "one more 
question," ^wc hardly care to attempt to Rive 

as you refer to and wc can see no way In which 
radio, telegraphy or airplanes could affect the 
chemical composition of the atmosphere. — Editor.) 


SOME INTERESTING NOTES ON SEV- 
ERAL STORIES. AMONG OTHERS 
"THE ICE MAN" 

Editor , Amazing Stories: 

In your June issue you print a letter from Mr, 
Bridgeford, who says that if you ever 
other story like "The Ice Man," he will 
son stop reading Amazing Stories. In rt 
you print in the July issue, "A Visit to Suari," 
which is simitar to "The Ice Man." However, 
I believe you were right to publish both stories. 
Your July issue was much better than the June. 
In the first part of "The Universe Wreckers," 
the author soya if two of the exactly opposite 
force rays had happened to strike two asteroids 
" e, the ship would have been < 


by t 


t Tritot 


t the 


d the Star in Sagittaric 

:r than itself, was not crushed. How v 
' Otherwise the story was fine. I was g 
e "Paradox -f" but the author leaves us when 
Yun goes to get the germ culture R.37 
again he leaves the story unfinished. “Tl 
ing Power," was pathetic. “Flamingo, 
orous. "The Message from Space," wt 
ten, but the author does not describe the 
akians; yet their picture was on the c, 
side with Mr. Manzoi 


ike reprints. Why n_. 
losing, I will say that I 
>u, so I hope it will n 


t of tl 


ould 


ons Columns that the Editors not i 
"The Ice Man" as unobjectionable, 
it extremely good. Wc are glad that 
with us. We would suppose that a s: 


Triton. — Editor.) 



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AMAZING STORIES 


November, 1930 



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